Lucretia Marchbanks, affectionately known as “Aunt Lou,” was famous in the Western town of Deadwood, South Dakota. Aside from being one of the only Black people in the area during the time of the Gold Rush and the Wild West, there was something else that made her a legendary figure.
She was an incredible cook. Her skills attracted customers from all over the nation, and eventually, it made her a wealthy woman. Aunt Lou made it big! But that’s not even the most interesting thing about her.
Black entrepreneurs who wanted to start a business could go to Marchbanks, who privately provided start-up money for their goals. Plus, she owned hotels and often allowed new Black families to stay there while they settled into town. Marchbanks’ impact is undeniable.
She deliberately and strategically provided financial and social support for our people. She served as a nurse, financier, and rancher. This was crucial to our survival in a quickly expanding, dangerous, racist Western territory.
We must always remember that Black businesses are important to increasing the wealth and power of our community. When Black entrepreneurs help other entrepreneurs and give back to our communities, we all win!