Celebrate Black History Month: Clara Brown

Clara BrownWhen I was younger, thinking about coming from a line of slaves was hard for me. When I get right down to the truth of it, it was like a badge of shame. As I’ve gotten older, my perspective has changed. I wouldn’t go as far to say I take pride in being a descent of slaves. Rather, I take pride in the idea that my family has been able to come so far, in spite of the oppression. With all the discrimination happening in today’s America, we are still able to overcome and achieve our dreams.

So, as we celebrate Black History Month, I want to recognize a woman of our past who overcome more than I’ve ever had to face to be successful: Clara Brown.

A Brief History of Clara Brown

Clara Brown was born into slavery in 1800. As often happened to slaves, Ms. Brown was separated from her family (husband and three living children) when each was sold to different owners when she was 35. Ms. Brown later received her freedom when at age 56, as outlined in her owner’s will.

There were some interesting laws back then. Freed slaves were forced to leave some states, such as Kentucky where Ms. Brown lived. As such, Ms. Brown journeyed westward to Colorado, leaving her family behind in slavery.

Colorado is where Ms. Brown’s business journey began. She took work as a mid-wife, cook, and nurse maid. And she saved. Ms. Brown gave generously back to her community and still was able to set money aside to start a business. I mention this to show the potential of planning a head… that we can start where we are and work toward larger dreams.

What she did with the money she earned through entrepreneurship is worthy. She started a laundry business, invested in land, grew churches, and assisted other freed slaves. Later in her life, Ms. Brown found her only surviving immediate family, her daughter Eliza Jane and granddaughter.

My Reflections

Clara Brown truly was a pioneer amongst Black Women. I can’t imagine how hard pioneer life must have been for Ms. Brown. When I think of the many job titles she held to support herself, community, and still save, I think of her as a dedicated women, willing to go the mile to accomplish her goals. Not living back then, I can only speculate, but speculate I did.

I know a lot of you are strapped for cash. I lost my job April 2016 and given a 2-week notice and no severance package. My contract wasn’t scheduled to end until the end of June, so the 2-week notice was completely out of blue. It took my entire department off guard. I can’t say I know you’re situation, but I know what it’s like to wonder how I’m going to pay my bills.

Business No Money Video SeriesHowever, when I think of Clara Brown earning money through a variety of methods and putting money away for her future, I can’t help but think we can all succeed.

Today, I’m leaving you with a gift. I’ve put together a video series that addresses how you can start your business with no money.

Success businesses don’t just happen over night. As with Ms. Brown, they take dedication and commitment. Sometimes they take baby steps.


So… with that in mind, what steps can you take today to move yourself toward your dream business?