Born to an enslaved mother and, likely, her white master, Alonzo Herndon was emancipated at age 7. By age 20, he headed to Atlanta on foot with $11 and little schooling.
He learned the barbering trade, opened his own shop and soon became recognized as the best barber in the South. Alonzo later opened two more shops and invested in real estate and life insurance. In 1905, he founded one of the United States’ most successful African-American businesses, the Atlanta Family Life Insurance Company.
When he passed away in 1927, he had become the wealthiest black citizen in Atlanta.