Alonzo Franklin Herndon (June 26, 1858 Walton County, Georgia – July 21, 1927) was a businessman and the founder and president of the Atlanta Family Life Insurance Company (Atlanta Life).
Born into slavery, he was the son of his white master, Frank Herndon, and an enslaved woman, Sophenie. Together with his mother, her parents, and his younger brother, Herndon was emancipated in 1865, aged seven years old.
The family worked in sharecropping in Social Circle, Georgia, forty miles east of Atlanta. In 1878, Herndon left Social Circle on foot and eventually went to Jonesboro, Clayton County, where he opened a barbershop. Herndon had only saved 11 dollars and only had approximately one year of schooling. His barbering business thrived and expanded over the years.He later became the owner of three barbershops in Atlanta. Those barbershops had elite customers such as presidents, judges, business men and lawyers, who frequented the barbershop. He went on to invest in real estate, and then entered insurance. He successfully built up the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, operating in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas.
Through his enterprises Herndon became Atlanta's first black millionaire. Herndon was featured in The Crisis Magazine’s “Men of the Month” in March 1921. The article emphasizes his competence and success as a businessman. His home, Herndon Home, is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. His son, Norris B. Herndon, expanded the company into a multi-million dollar empire. Herndon attended the First Congregational Church
- Benson Herdenson, Alexa. "Business Succes". Business and economy. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
- Business & Industry - Alonzo Herndon (1858-1927), The New Georgia Encyclopedia.
- "Men of the Month". The Crisis 21 (5): 215–216. March 1921. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- "The millionaire nobody knows", Ebony magazine, October 1955, pp. 43-46.
- Who left what behind: wills of famous blacks; while some left millions, others left nothing but legal problems | Ebony | Find Articles at BNET.com
- Frank J. J. Miele, John Sprinkle and Patti Henry (November 1999), National Historic Landmark Nomination: Herndon Home (PDF), National Park Service (includes biography of Alonzo Herndon) and PDF (32 KB)
- Lawrence Otis Graham, Our Kind of People: inside America's Black upper class, p. 344.
- Atlanta Life; Herndon Foundation
- The New Georgia Encyclopedia; Alonzo Herndon
- National Park Service--Register of Historic Places; Herndon Home
- Sweet Auburn Avenue; Alonzo Franklin Herndon
- City of Atlanta Online; Herndon Home
- Atlanta Life Insurance building in Sweet Auburn