Who Owns The Icehouse?
Gary Schoeniger, Founder and CEO, The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative
Eight Life-Lessons From an Unlikely Entrepreneur
“Long before the word ‘entrepreneur’ became popular, the concept still existed.”
These are among the first words Mr. Clifton Taulbert uttered during our chance interview in April, 2008. During our interview, Mr. Taulbert described the entrepreneurial influence and life-lessons he learned from his Uncle Cleve (an unlikely entrepreneur who defied the odds as the owner of the icehouse in Glen Allan, Mississippi during the height of legal segregation.) Today, through a partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, that chance interview is being transformed into a two-part learning initiative designed to inspire and engage America’s youth in the unlimited opportunities that an entrepreneurial mindset can provide.
The Book: Who Owns the Icehouse? is a true story that takes place in the Mississippi Delta at the height of legal segregation. This was a time when opportunities for African-Americans were limited by cultural and legal constraints that were beyond their control.
For most, it was a time and place where opportunities seemed out of reach. The work was in the fields where the sun was hot, the days were long and the wages were low. It was an accepted way of life that had been passed down for generations. From the time young Cliff could stand upright, he too was expected to climb aboard Mr. Walter’s field truck and find his place among his peers in the sweltering cotton fields of the segregated South.
Yet one man stood out - an ordinary man who defied convention and triumphed over adversity as an entrepreneur. That man was Clifton’s Uncle Cleve.
Who Owns the Ice House? highlights the eight entrepreneurial life-lessons Uncle Cleve passed along to his young nephew, Clifton Taulbert. The story also chronicles Clifton’s life as he applied those life-lessons to become what Time Magazine referred to as “one of our nation’s most outstanding entrepreneurs.”
The Course: The project also includes an interactive online learning program designed to immerse students in the eight life-lessons and the entrepreneurial mindset Uncle Cleve left behind. The multimedia program will include video interviews and case studies featuring modern-day examples of those who, like Uncle Cleve, have overcome hardship and adversity by embracing an entrepreneurial mindset.
Although the story takes place in the Mississippi Delta at the height of legal segregation, it is not a story about discrimination or racial injustice. Who Owns the Icehouse? is the story of one man’s ability to rise above his circumstances, to exit the ordinary highway and make a tremendous contribution to life. It is a timeless story that captures the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset and the unlimited opportunities it can provide.
Now more than ever, it is a mindset that we could all learn to apply.