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Building Atlanta: How I Broke Through Segregation to Launch a Business Empire Hardcover – April 1, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Russell bought his first property at age 16 with funds saved from his shoe-shine business and skills in building construction he learned from his father. Income from the duplex paid for his college education. Born the last of eight children in a poor Georgia family, he rose to be a major builder and developer in Atlanta and a civic leader who helped elect Andrew Young, the first black congressman from the South since Reconstruction, and Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta. During the civil rights era, Russell worked behind the scenes with influential black clergy and businessmen, helped finance the black-owned newspaper, and provided bail money for those arrested for civil disobedience. As a businessman, he built homes for the newly emerging black middle class as racial restrictions were lifted, and he went on to desegregate the clubs, cliques, and boards of Atlanta’s movers and shakers. Detailing a long career of setbacks and successes, Russell shares memories of growing up in Atlanta during challenging and pivotal times. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“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



“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
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613746946
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613746943
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Inspiring real life story of overcoming obstacles and how self preservation prevails in America! This book also shows how everyday relationship encounters can be life changing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a very interesting autobiography about builder Herman J. Russell. While living in Atlanta I read about and saw developments that had Russell's name attached to them. I knew nothing about his life or background. He has written about his life, beliefs and background that is easy to read and follow. His story proves you can make it if you try!
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Format: Kindle Edition
My daughter, who lives in the same neighborhood where some of the Russell family lives, had told me how much The Russell's had contributed to Atlanta, but I had no idea what an outstanding family this was until I read this book. This book is well written, and I warn you that you will not want to put it down once you start reading.

Herman Russell had obstacles in his life, but nothing kept him from going forward and being the very best person and citizen he could be. This book is for any age, but it should be required reading for EVERY young person in this country. Iris Sinclair
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By Q on April 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a current law school student interested in real estate and this book has been very inspiring. I have recommended it to many of my friends and colleagues as a GREAT READ!!!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A true entrepreneurial legend and success headquartered in Atlanta but positively impacting lives and communities nationally, Herman Russell Sr. recounts his life in exquisite and vivid detail. A great story for anyone wanting to better understand how Atlanta became "the city to busy to hate."
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By Mtull on March 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book. I am so proud of Mr. Russell and I am so glad that his story like that of Vernon Jordan's is now told. Anyone who wants to know anything about black business, the civil rights movement or leadership should read this FANTASTIC book.

Regards,
Mossi K. Tull
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Format: Hardcover
Herman J. Russell, was born during the Great Depression, and Segregation in Atlanta, December 23, 1930. Growing up, he would learn some valuable lessons from his mother and father, which would serve him well, in the business and civic world, as a leader.

Segregation, would also serve to teach him about people, and life as well. From his standpoint, the institution diminished everyone. A good Christian, who was White, even following the Bibles instruction, to love thye neighbor as yourself, only viewed other Whites to be equal, because Black people weren't their neighbors.

While attending Tuskegee University, he received a certificate of Masonry, and started his own plastering business. After his father became ill, and couldn't work anymore he took over his fathers enterprise, naming it H.J. Russell Plastering Co. A little while later he decided to pursue expansion of real estate holdings, and starting building residential homes, and medium sized apartments buildings.

By the age of 40 he owned two thousand rental units, a property management firm, and an insurance company, all the while, in his won way becoming a fierce advocate for civil rights. He wasn't a front man, but nevertheless he played a valuable part in the Civil Rights movement. On March 15, 1960 during a demonstration, 77 students were arrested, and he utilized his property to post, a million dollar bond for their bail. In his personal life, Mr. Russell always seized the opportunity, to extend himself beyond the boundaries, racism presented.

From extremely humble beginnings, Herman would blossom into an extremely smart business man, who looked at things from many angles.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tremendous read for anyone interested in Black History. This is the reason that I chose to read the book. As a result of my annual search for an interesting read, I was able to connect the dots to some of my heroes. To find that Mr. Russell and Vernon Jordan knew each other from grade school was truly astounding. So many of the young men from their neighborhood made such a mark on our world. Dr. Martin Luther King being a friend and associate was interesting to say the least. To know that men like Mr. Russell and Mr. AG Gaston were instrumental in providing financial support, not by accident but on purpose, to the the movement was ingenious. My hat is off to you gentlemen for paving the way for those who do not even understand or know your contributions.
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