On this day in 1906, Sidney Barthwell is born in Georgia. He will migrate to Detroit at age 14 and attend Cass Technical High School and Detroit Technological Institute (the forerunner of Wayne State’s College of Pharmacy), graduating with a degree in pharmacy.
An ambitious entrepreneur, he will open Barthwell Drugs during the 1930s in the midst of the Great Depression. With the addition of a soda fountain and ice cream the business will prosper.
Eventually, Barthwell will own nine drugstores and three ice cream parlors. He will become the first African-American member of the Detroit Retail Druggist Association and serve as president of the Booker T. Washington Business Association. Sidney Barthwell will join the ancestors on June 23, 2005.
Ken Coleman, the author of On this Day: African-American Life in Detroit, is a native Detroiter and former news reporter. He served on the Detroit Charter Revision Commission. He lives in Detroit with his wife, Kim Trent, and their son, Jackson Coleman.