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Barney Ford

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Denver Public Library Special Collections
Barney Ford
Barney “King of Restaurateurs” Ford

Barney Ford escaped slavery in Virginia in the mid-1800s, taught himself to read and write, and eventually came to Colorado with his wife Julia seeking a fortune in gold.

Once here, he found mine claims were denied to African Americans, so the entrepreneurial Ford made other opportunities for himself: first a barbershop – destroyed in the Great Denver Fire of 1863 – then other businesses including hotels. And eventually he became known as the "King of Restaurateurs" and a civic leader, nominated to the territorial legislature in 1873 where he worked to get universal suffrage in the new state constitution. As he wrote his enslaver many years earlier, "I can do better by myself than I can with you." And he proved it many times over with far-reaching and pioneering efforts for Black Americans, confirmed again just this year by the state legislature's declaration of February 1, 2022, as "Barney Ford Day."

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.