Don and Bella Barden were a well-respected and powerful couple in the city of Detroit. Don H. Barden (1943-2011), was a charismatic entrepreneur, a leader, and a visionary. At the age of 21, Don showed his entrepreneurial drive by opening up his own record store, “Donnie’s Records”. As a visionary, he refused to see barriers to entering industries like cable and gambling. Despite his lack of experience, he went on to develop the largest black cable television operator at the time (Barden Cable) and managed the only black-owned gaming conglomerate with properties in Las Vegas. Internationally, Don founded Barden International, Inc. an automotive processing plant built in Namibia, Africa, for the purpose of converting and unfitting General Motors vehicles.
Bella Marshall Barden (1950-2012) was a hardworking and dedicated career woman. After receiving her J.D. from the University of Michigan, Bella became the first female finance director for the city of Detroit at the age of 32 and served in this role for 11 years. She later went on to become the CFO and COO of Wayne County. Bella and Don both were friends to many organizations, charities and communities and believed in making a difference in communities in which they lived and worked.
The Bella and Don Barden Foundation is a living legacy of the couple and was inherited by their daughter Alana Marshall Barden (’13) who serves as the current president and chairman. The foundation strives to promote growth, leadership, and entrepreneurship in youth and pledges commitment to the community. The Barden Centennial Scholarship is dedicated in memory and honor of Bella and Don Barden, and also celebrates their daughter’s initiation into the Skull and Dagger centennial class, which was made possible by Bella and Don’s support and financing of her USC education.