Greenberg, a freelance journalist, has written a thoroughly researched biography of the late Jake Simmons Jr., the most successful African-American entrepreneur in the history of the petroleum industry. Simmons's ancestors were slaves of the Oklahoma-based Creek Indian tribe, which treated their slaves with unusual dignity; this may have helped Simmons's ancestors to strike out on their own when given the opportunity. Upon the uprooting of the Creek nation, many of the former slaves became wealthy landowners in the Tulsa area, leasing their lands for oil exploration at the turn of this century. Simmons, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute, was greatly influenced by its founder and president, Booker T. Washington, and in addition to an analysis of Simmons's business expertise, Greenberg also details Simmons's civil rights activities. This is a complementary work to another African-American business biography, John H. Johnson's Succeeding Against the Odds ( LJ 6/1/89), and is highly recommended for most libraries.
-Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Journalist Greenberg tells the fascinating story of Oklahoman Jake Simmons and his family. Simmons' grandfather was a slave who became a Creek Indian chief, and Simmons himself amassed an untold fortune as the nation's first black in the oil business by brokering oil leases, first for black Oklahoma farmers and later for the oil-rich nations of Africa. Simmons' African and Indian heritage brought him to the forefront of political and civil-rights struggles in Oklahoma as early as the 1920s Brad Hooper
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