John Wesley Coleman was an investor, employment agent, and civic leader. He along with his family were among the first black residents in Boyle Heights, California.
Coleman was educated at Tilleston Institute in Austin, Texas. When he arrived to Los Angeles, he found work as a driver for the Black Diamond Coal Company and as a Pullman Porter.
Over time, Coleman started several business ventures, including a successful downtown cafe and along with his wife Lydia, a hostelry business called Hotel Coleman and furniture store. He later opened an employment agency where he helped numerous African American newcomers to the city find employment. He was known by the news media as the “Employment King of Los Angeles.”
Along the way, Coleman also worked as a real estate agent and invested in property with his mother, including the Coleman Flats apartments.