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On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Lisa Drew Books (Paperback)) Paperback – January 1, 2002
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She was the daughter of slaves, married at 14, a widow with a baby daughter at 20. But, by the time that she was 40, Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919) was making as much money as a white corporate executive, thanks to her popular hair-care products for black women and her brilliance at marketing them. She created a workforce of sales agents that gave African American women job options other than being washerwomen or domestics. As her prominence and wealth increased, she became a generous benefactor of black educational institutions, and such a staunch supporter of the antilynching movement that the State Department labeled her a "race agitator" and denied her a passport in 1919. Yet, she had plenty of time for fun, too; she built a lavish mansion (near John D. Rockefeller's) in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, and her daughter Lelia entertained the Harlem Renaissance elite in a spectacular Manhattan townhouse that was renovated with revenues from the company's New York branch. Author A'Lelia Bundles, a veteran television journalist and Madam Walker's descendant, reminds us that controversy over straightened hair has raged within the black community for a century, and that the businesswoman insisted that her aim never was to "de-kink" her customers' tresses, but instead to "grow" them through proper care, frequent washing, and improved nutrition. Bundles seamlessly weaves together her great-great-grandmother's remarkable personal odyssey with the broader outlines of African American struggle in the early 20th century, to create a colorful biography that's also a fascinating social history. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Bundles, the great-great-granddaughter of America's first black woman millionaire, evinces great affection for her famous relative, even if she doesn't overcome a major hurdle: Madam Walker kept her intimate life so private that there's not much to say about it. In the first chapters, Bundles uses a lot of awkward "possibly"s and "perhaps"s as she speculates about her subject's motivations and feelings. Once into the swing of Madam Walker's career, however, Bundles sidesteps the problem by turning social historian, leaving questions of love and sex aside. Walker's trajectory from uneducated washerwoman to hair-care industry magnate becomes the organizing element for a larger mosaic of black life in America, from Reconstruction through the founding of the NAACP in 1909. There's solid business history here, too, as Madam Walker figures out how to make her kitchen industry into a national empire by franchising it. Walker's philanthropy and social consciousness (working for the antilynching and the African anticolonial movements, for example) made her an important powerbroker in the black community. With fascinating details on benevolent and fraternal organizations, urban churches, black colleges, political movements and government surveillance of those involved in them, Bundles takes readers on an engrossing tour of a neglected corner of American history. Agent, Gail Ross. (Feb. 1) Forecast: While this is too densely researched for the average Oprah fan, devotees of social history, women's studies and business narratives will find Bundles's work a treasureAand find it they will as Bundles goes out on a major nine-city tour. This could easily become a staple in college-level African-American studies classes, and a reading group favorite.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
"The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker" (Lisa Drew Books) is an excellent history book about the mid 1800's to early 1900's and it is regarding Ms. Walker's beginning business of creating and concocting new hair remedies for hair shampooing, hair conditioning, and hair growth which were necessary ingredients for black people's hair in the early days as well as it is necessary for black people's hair today. It is interesting to read about how black hair care got started historically.
I was able to write a college paper project using this book and other books and I received an 'A' for the grade on my assignment.
I am so grateful for God's great gift to me through you and your family. I won't go into a lot of detail in this post about just how deeply this book has impacted me, but know that it is very significant. So, I hope to help others take a closer look for their own benefit, also, and am glad for this chance to leave a review.
I truly feel that this book should be required reading for every American school child at the middle school level and above. Truthfully, a teacher could easily use an entire semester, or even a whole year, to go through this book in detail with their students and probably still feel they weren't able to fit all of its goodness into the curriculum.
I also definitely feel that homeschool families, like our family, would greatly benefit from a book like this because it helps to tie all of the historical pieces together all in one book.
Donna Marie Johnson
On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker