The Black Russian: Vladimir Alexandrov

Every now and then you find a hidden gem. A piece of history you had no idea existed or even thought to think it would. A Black man becoming a millionaire in Russia? During Jim Crow?

When the south became to much to bear, Frederick Bruce Thomas migrated to the Midwest in search of escape and a better life. Settling in Chicago and Brooklyn, he worked as a waiter and sometimes cook before heading to London seeking more freedom. And as fate would have it, he ventured to Russia and while many of his fellow dark-skinned Americans were being lynched and terrorized, he was able to amass a fortune and lifestyle no one could have imagined.

Once settled in Russia, away from the racism of America, he renamed himself Fyodor Fyodorovich Tomas, became a Russian citizen and utilizing his penchant for hard work and talents he learned waiting in restaurants, became one of the nation’s richest and most famous owners of theaters and restaurants.

Like many other citizens, The Bolshevik Revolution ruined his businesses and barely escaping with his life and a few dollars in his pockets, he escaped to nearby Turkey where he again re-utilizing his skills and had a second run at success in Constantinople becoming ‘the sultan of jazz,’ introducing this new musical art-form to the nation. But American racism and xenophobia crept in and unfortunately he was unable to escape these unfortunate times being embraced throughout the world.

A remarkable hidden story of rags to riches to ruin that has escaped the mainstream but should definitely be told to display the ‘success against all odds’ especially during arguable the world’s most tumultuous timeline.

Remarkable to say the least.

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