Building Atlanta

Building Atlanta
Building Atlanta

Building Atlanta

How I Broke Through Segregation to Launch a Business Empire
By Herman J. Russell, By Bob Andelman, Introduction by Andrew Young


304 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, PDF, Mobipocket, EPUB, Trade Paper

Cloth, $26.95 (US $26.95) (CA $31.95)

ISBN 9781613746943

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Apr 2014)


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Born into a blue-collar family in the Jim Crow South, Herman J. Russell built a shoeshine business when he was twelve years old—and used the profits to buy a vacant lot where he built a duplex while he was still a teen. Over the next fifty years, he continued to build businesses, amassing one of the nation’s most profitable minority-owned conglomerates.In Building Atlanta, Russell shares his inspiring life story and reveals how he overcame racism, poverty, and a debilitating speech impediment to become one of the most successful African American entrepreneurs, Atlanta civic leaders, and unsung heroes of the civil rights movement. Not just a typical rags-to-riches story, Russell achieved his success through focus, planning, and humility, and he shares his winning advice throughout. As a millionaire builder before the civil rights movement took hold and a friend of Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, and Andrew Young, he quietly helped finance the civil rights crusade, putting up bond for protestors and providing the funds that kept King’s dream alive. He provides a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the role the business community, both black and white working together, played in Atlanta’s peaceful progression from the capital of the racially divided Old South to the financial center of the New South.


"Not many people alive in Atlanta today can look back and say they were involved with Dr. King, but Herman can do that. He's been an important person in the history of this city."  —Arthur Blank, cofounder, the Home Depot; owner, Atlanta Falcons

"Herman has been one of the pillars of the Atlanta community for many years, as a businessperson but also as a caring, concerned citizen. He's made a lasting contribution, not just to Atlanta but to the nation."  —John Lewis, U.S. representative, Georgia fifth congressional district

"I think that Herman Russell had as much to do with the rise of Atlanta as Ted Turner. Ted did a tremendous job in taking Atlanta all over the world via CNN and Herman did the same with his building empire."  —Hank Aaron, Hall-of-Fame baseball player

“Mr. Russell is a towering figure in the city of Atlanta, and I can’t think of Atlanta without him. His name in telephone’s address book is simply ‘Great Man.’” —Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

“Herman Russell is one of that group of African Americans in Atlanta, Horatio Alger types, who are proof of the American Dream.” —Jane Fonda

"Here's a man who, from his humble start working in his father's plastering business, has gone on to reshape the urban landscape of many of America's greatest cities."  —Earl Graves, founder and publisher of Black Enterprise

Author Biography

Herman J. Russell is the founder, former CEO, and current chairman of the board of H. J. Russell and Company and Concessions International, as well as a nationally recognized entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Atlanta civic leader.Bob Andelman is the author or coauthor of 15 biographical, business, management, self-help, and sports books, including Built from Scratch with Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, the founders of The Home Depot and Fans Not Customers with Vernon W. Hill, founder of Commerce Bank among others.Andrew Young is a senior statesman and former activist, elected official, and diplomat.