Robert Reed Church
Robert Reed Church Sr. (June 18, 1839 – August 29, 1912) was an African-American entrepreneur, businessman and landowner in Memphis, Tennessee, who began his rise during the American Civil War. He was the first African-American “millionaire” in the South. His total wealth probably reached $700,000, not a round million. Church built a reputation for great wealth and influence in the business community. He founded Solvent Savings Bank, the first black-owned bank in the city, which extended credit to blacks so they could buy homes and develop businesses. As a philanthropist, Church used his wealth to develop a park, playground, auditorium and other facilities for the black community, who were excluded by state-enacted racial segregation from most such amenities in the city.