As we celebrate Black History Month, Cheddar is highlighting prominent Black Americans who are carving their own historic paths and trailblazing in their industries. While Black History Month has become synonymous with reflecting on past achievements of Black Americans, it is important that we acknowledge today's historic feats as they happen.

Prioritizing and managing money have always been important to Ayesha Selden, but it was the sale of her childhood home in 1997 that drove her to become the real estate guru she is today. After failing to convince her mom to hold onto the home, it sold for around $35,000 — a number she said would haunt them as the property skyrocketed to more than 10 times that value.

She began her takeover of real estate at just 24 years old when she purchased a foreclosed property in Philadelphia for $67,000. After rehabbing the home, moving in, and snagging a roommate whose rent contribution essentially paid the cost of the mortgage, she was able to grab a second property just two years later. Selden reached millionaire status by age 30 and today her portfolio touts more than 40 properties.

The self-proclaimed economic activist is now paying it forward and meeting young Black Americans where they are: on social media. She's been called "wealth Twitter's favorite auntie" and for good reason: she regularly dishes out wealth-building information and makes a point to emphasize how integral financial literacy is to driving Black wealth and success in the U.S.

Selden told Cheddar that she feels compelled to do this and has a sense of responsibility to pump information she's gained over the course of her career back into the Black community. 

"If not us, who? I have been extremely vocal and (arguably too) transparent on social media for well over a decade about what I am doing to build wealth. I began my journey of social financial education around 2008 or 2009 on Facebook, then moved to Instagram and Twitter. I showed my entire hand — much to the dismay of family and friends who worried about the safety of being so open about wealth. Money is such a taboo topic. We were always taught that talking personal wealth was an inappropriate public discourse. Since most of us didn't grow up having dinner table conversations about how mutual funds differ from EFTs, I went to socials and said 'let's get uncomfortable,'" Selden said.

When it comes to representation in the real estate space, she noted that it is important for Black people, especially young Black people, to understand that homeownership is not only attainable but the "primary driver of wealth in America." According to the Federal Reserve, white households have eight times the higher median net worth than Black households. She's working to reverse the course of Black homeownership as it has dropped nearly to levels unseen since the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. 

"There is a direct correlation between the drop in Black homeownership and the average net worth in the Black community today," Selden told Cheddar. "The historic, and very intentional, suppression of our pay and neighborhoods have compounded to what we see today."

In her book titled Mud 2 Millions: Ayesha Selden's 7 Step Wealth Cheat Codes, she outlines the importance of discretionary income and how to assess and grow your net worth. It is a guide for those yearning to lead better financial lives but unsure of how to get the ball rolling. 

"This is where we begin. We can not take that step forward until we know where we stand," she said.

Read more of our "Celebrating Movers and Shakers This Black History Month" series:

Rares Founder Gerome Sapp

PlayVS Founder Delane Parnell

Newark, NJ Mayor Ras Baraka

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