This Black Business Woman Ran A Successful Cotton Club in the 1940's in an ALL WHITE Area in Colorado -- Learn Her Secrets

Fannie Mae Duncan

Legendary Black businesswoman Fannie Mae Duncan courageously opened a restaurant and bar in downtown Colorado Springs in 1947, and it went on to become extremely successful welcoming the likes of Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr, Duke Ellington, and more. During a time of severe racial discrimination, this was a huge accomplishment, but her road to becoming a businesswoman was anything but ordinary.

Her story is now available in a new book called Everybody Welcome - A Memoir of Fannie Mae Duncan and the Cotton Club, which documents her life and journey as a Black businesswoman in an area of mostly whites.

From Humble Beginnings

Fannie grew up as one of seven children living on a farm in Oklahoma. When she was only 8, her father died, leaving her mother to care for a large family on her own. The family eventually relocated to Colorado Springs in 1933 where Fannie's mother worked as a maid and did laundry in order to feed her family. Little did Fannie know when she worked as a waitress at Father Devine's that the very same building would one day be the home for her own business, The Cotton Club.

Many Celebrities Performed at Her Club

Cotton Club
She had a head for business and a determination to succeed. Her Cotton Club would welcome the likes of Lionel Hampton, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Sammy Davis Jr., Fats Domino and Flip Wilson, all of whom entertained at her famous club. But it wasn't easy. Fannie had to endure racism, discrimination based on her race and gender, and personal losses such as the death of her only child and the death of her husband.

Why The Book Had To Be Written

Kathleen Esmiol, author of Everybody Welcome - A Memoir of Fannie Mae Duncan and the Cotton Club, is a retired English teacher who worked with Fannie for 12 years putting the book together. After Fannie's death in 2005, Kathleen wanted the book to be written as a memoir to Fannie, so she wrote it as though Fannie were actually speaking.

Finally Honored By Colorado

It wasn't until 2012, after her death, that Fannie was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, but her success was well-known by many for decades. She continues to be celebrated as the first African-American woman in Colorado Springs to succeed as an entrepreneur, as a strong supporter of community and education, and as a role model for others.
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