Don Hamilton Barden was born in Inkster, a suburb of Detroit Michigan. He wore many hats over the years but “King of Detroit” was one of his crowning victories.
He was the 9th of 13 children and his parents and his brothers worked in the auto plants in the Detroit area. He went to Central State College in Ohio to escape the auto plant but had to drop out because of a lack of money.
But instead of returning back home to Michigan, he took the little bit of money he had saved up ($500) to start Donnie’s Record store in 1965. Being a persistence and resourceful entrepreneur he got some of the most popular singing acts to stop by his store to promote their latest record and his store; people like The Jackson Five and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
During his 20 year stay in Lorain Ohio he kept busy: he became the first Black member of the City Council, he founded a newspaper, and he worked as a news anchor and he hosted a weekly TV talk show.
While he was in Ohio he also started to become wealthy by working on developing real estate deals. He finally returned to Detroit MI with enough seed money to start his own cable TV business. The company grew and grew and was bought out by Comcast for over $100 million in 1994.
He took that Comcast money to open Majestic Star, a river boat casino. The Majestic empire also grew to include gaming locations in Indiana, Colorado, Mississippi, and Nevada.
In 2001 Mr. Barden became the first Black Las Vegas casino owner with the purchase of the Fitzgeralds. In 2003 Black Enterprise selected Barden’s firm as company of the year. In 2004 he earned the Trumpet Award for Entrepreneur of the year.
I’m writing about him because I’m also from Detroit MI. I also grew up in a large family I was the 9th of 14, and we were never all together. We are in pockets scatted around the country. I’m in Philadelphia PA (the place of the Democratic Convention in 2016), some of my siblings are in Michigan, Louisiana, and California. I worked on the assembly line before I escaped the auto plant by joining the military.
That unique experience alone allowed me to travel to 7 different countries on 3 separate continents in two different branches of the military (US Air Force and US Army). I hear people talk about Bengasi and I remember I was in Tripoli Libya after Col. Muammar Gaddafi had overthrew King Idris in 1969. The US Air Force base commander Col. Daniel Chappie James stood up to Gaddafi as the US military closed out their air base operations in North Africa. Chappie James went on to become the first Black Four Star General for the Air Force.
I was in West Germany before the Iron Curtain was lifted and the Berlin Wall came down. I’m at the point where I can say I’ve been around the block (survived the 1967 Detroit Riots) and across the pond (Atlantic Ocean) twice. I write and I think like a former Logistics Army Officer. I come in peace but I will give you a piece of my mind because the Warrior Spirit lives in me.
Don died of lung cancer at 67 and I got into the health and wellness business because I realized you can’t get wealthy working on a job unless you’re the CEO and you can’t stay healthy unless you work on your health. Sometimes you need a total life change to achieve both totallifechanges.com/6766911. Hit the shop button and buy something to improve your health then look around to see who you might help. Hint: service to others leads to greatness. I’m work on my legacy what are you working on? I may not become the “Don of Detroit ” but I am “The Duke of Earl – The Blog Beast Extraordinaire”.