Skip to content

Millionaire-Mogul Don Barden Dies in Detroit from Lung Cancer at 67

Detroit, MI-Don Barden, who was for a time heralded as the unofficial ‘king of Detroit’ lost his long time and hard fought battle with lung cancer on  Thursday, May 19. Barden died at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. Widely known and respected for being the first African American Las Vegas casino owner and major cable franchise owner, he once partnered with the rich and famous, including a failed bid in the late 1990s to open a $1 billion theme park resort in Detroit with late megastar Michael Jackson in exchange for a city casino license.

In 2010 Black Enterprise magazine ranked Barden Companies Inc., as its No. 10 top grossing BE100s black-owned business with $405 million in profit. In that same year, Barden was also honored with the Black Enterprise A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award

For nearly four decades Barden worked relentlessly to build a multimillion-dollar real estate portfolio, a cable business that ranked among the nation’s largest black-owned businesses, and he eventually grew to become a gaming powerhouse with establishments in Tunica, Mississippi, and Gary, Indiana.

Barden is a respected name in Detroit from the recognition of Barden Cable company. Barden had been fighting lung cancer for sometime. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement: “Don was a stalwart leader and businessman in this community, as well as a friend. We were aware of his longtime illness, and dreaded this day. We send our condolences to his family.”

Barden was born in Inkster, Michigan in 1943 and was the ninth of 13 children. The Rev. Wendell Anthony said, “It’s one thing to be successful; it’s more important to be significant. Don Barden was significant as it relates to setting an example of exemplary African American entrepreneurship.”

Barden was 67.