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Two Opportunities to Meet SHOMARI WILLS, author of BLACK FORTUNES
Saturday, July 20
4:00 - 5:00pm

Two Opportunities to Meet SHOMARI WILLS, Author of BLACK FORTUNES

Sat. July 20, 4 PM at Clemmons Family Farm and

Sun. July 21, 1 PM at Pizzeria Verita

*Register to attend on Eventbrite through*


About the Book:

Wills' first book, Black Fortunes, shares the untold stories of America's first black millionaires. It was in part inspired by Wills' great-great uncle John Drew, a gilded age industrialist, Negro League baseball team owner, and one of the first Black millionaires in the Philadelphia area. Other millionaires featured in "Black Fortunes" are:

  • Mary Ellen Pleasant, who used her Gold Rush wealth to further the cause of abolitionist John Brown;
  • Robert Reed Church, who became the largest landowner in Tennessee;
  • Hannah Elias, the mistress of a New York City millionaire, who used the land her lover gave her to build an empire in Harlem;
  • Annie Turnbo-Malone, orphan and self-taught chemist, who developed the first national brand of hair care products;
  • Madam C. J Walker, a philanthropist, and a political and social activist,who invented a line of African-American hair care products in 1905; and
  • O. W. Gurley, a Mississippi school teacher who developed a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a thriving town with a strong African American economy that became known as "the Black Wall Street."

What lessons can we learn from these stories and apply to our lives in today's society? In the face of indescribable traumas, oppression and violence, what are the ingredients to individual and collective fortitude, resilience and triumph over such adversity? How can we help one another, as a multicultural community, to find our own fortunes- however we may define them?


Shomari "Sho" Wills was born in Washington D.C. and grew up on 16th street aka the "Gold Coast", an enclave of black professionals, artists, and politicians. Wills attended Morehouse College and Columbia Journalism School, where he studied writing and broadcast journalism and won the Lynton Bookwriting fellowship in 2013. As a journalist, he worked for One Caribbean Television as a reporter, at CNN as a producer on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon and at Good Morning America, where he won an Emmy as part of the production team in 2017. He has also contributed to Slate and Vice. Currently he is developing a TV adaption of Black Fortunes with Dear White People producer Stephanie Allain. He is also hard at work writing three books including a follow up to Black Fortunes and a young adult book. Wills was born and raised in Washington DC and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Survived Slavery and Became Millionaires (Paperback )

  • By Shomari Wills
  • Price: $17.99
  • ISBN 9780062437600
  • Published: Amistad Press


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