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Old 01 August 2008, 02:50 PM
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musicgeek musicgeek is offline
Join Date: 01 August 2005
Location: Fairfield, CT
Posts: 5,548
Default Roebuck was black?

At one of my classes a few weeks ago, while discussing the black experience in America, the instructor mentioned that "Roebuck (of sears Roebuck) was black." One student in the class said "That's right;" most of the responses ranged from thoughtful "Huh!" expressions to disbelief that they had never known this.

Curious to learn more about this supposedly forgotten historical figure, I Googled around a bit - none of the online biographies or Sears Co. histories mention Alvah Roebuck's ethnicity, nor does his picture look particularly African-American (not that one can always tell):

A few blogs/amateur history sites throw out the factoid, but never with any citations.

So, was Alvah Roebuck black, and deliberately forgotten as an important player in American business history? Could it be the people relating the story are using the same "one drop" principle that people used to call Warren G. Harding black? Or is the whole thing in error?
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Old 01 August 2008, 11:33 PM
Natalie Natalie is offline
Join Date: 15 January 2008
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 2,171

The Sears website says he was of English parentage. I suppose it's plausible that one of his parents was a black English person, but I would think they'd mention it.
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