Browse Tag

black culture

3 mins read

Benjamin “Pap” Singleton: A Visionary Leader in Black Business History

Benjamin “Pap” Singleton was a formerly enslaved man who later became a businessman and advocate for African-American migration. After the Civil War, Singleton, who was born into slavery in Tennessee in the early 1800s, was granted his freedom. Passionate about bettering the lives of African-Americans, he rose to prominence in the Black economic empowerment movement.

He was a visionary businessman who saw the potential for African Americans to build prosperous businesses and amass wealth. He established several thriving businesses, including a lumber yard, a brick-making company, and an estate agency.

In the late 1860s, while he was selling his goods, Singleton became convinced that his mission was to help his people improve their lives and convince them to purchase farmland in Tennessee. Soon after, he shifted to a new strategy, advising them to relocate west to farm and acquire federal homestead lands.

In the early 1870s, he began exploring Kansas before returning to the south to organize settlement parties. In 1873, nearly 300 African Americans followed him to Cherokee County and established “Singleton’s Colony.” Other individuals would quickly relocate to the counties of Wyandotte, Shawnee, and Lyon.

By 1874, Singleton and his associates had founded the Tennessee-based Edgefield Real Estate and Homestead Association, which guided over 20,000 black emigrants to Kansas between 1877 and 1879.

Benjamin “ PAP “ Singleton
These four people moved from Tennessee to Kansas as part of the Exodusters movement. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

In 1880, Singleton was called to testify before Congress regarding the alarming exodus of Blacks from the South.

In 1881, he capitalized on his reputation to establish the Colored United Links in Topeka, Kansas. The objective was to pool all African-Americans’ financial resources in order to build Black-owned businesses, factories, and trade schools.

James B. Weaver, the presidential candidate of the Greenback Party, met with the organization to discuss the possibility of a merger. After 1881, membership declined, and the organization disbanded shortly thereafter.

Singleton’s prominence in the Black community was a result of his enterprise and advocacy. Respected for his wisdom, intelligence, and business acumen, he was also well-known for his unwavering commitment to improving the lives of African-Americans.

Despite his life and legacy being largely forgotten, Singleton’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to Black economic empowerment continue to inspire generations.

He remains an important figure in the history of African-American business and a prime example of how entrepreneurship can drive economic growth and create wealth for the Black community.

Don’t miss any articles! Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn & Twitter.

1 min read

Preserving The Historic Black “SANS” Neighborhood in Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest & Ninevah Subdivisions (SANS)  is an African American beachfront community in Sag Harbor, New York.

Founded following World War II, the SANS community served primarily as a summer retreat for middle-class African American families during the post-WWII and Jim Crow era.


In March of 2019, SANS was named to the New York State Register of Historic Places. SANS made its way onto the National Register of Historic Places just a few months later. In December of 2019, SANS was among those honored with a State Historic Preservation Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation Organizational Achievement.

The SANS Steering Committee was honored again in June of 2020 when Preservation Long Island presented a 2020 Project Excellence Award to SANS for their National Register Survey & Nomination.

Terri Wisdom, founder, and CEO of Harlem Network News has close familial ties to the SANS region. We caught up with her to find out more about this historic neighborhood and her work at Harlem Network News.

In this interview, Terri shares:

  • The early history of Sag Harbor’s SANS region
  • Sag Harbor’s connection to the “Amistad” movie.
  • How gentrification is affecting the area
  • The importance of preserving historic Black neighborhoods.
  • The importance and benefits of having a local media outlet in Harlem
  • The Harlem Network News initiative to bring Brittney Griner home

-Tony O. Lawson