Customer Reviews for

Black Rose: The Magnificent Story of Madam C. J. Walker, America's First Black Female Millionaire

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2001

    A must read for historical novel fans

    I have a new heroine. Not only did she rise above being black in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but also she rose above being a black woman to become America's first female millionaire. It's an incredible story. Her name is Madame C. J. Walker and her story is fictionalized in Tananarive Due's historical novel, The Black Rose. Based on the research and an extensive outline complete by famed author Alex Haley before his death in 1992, Due weaves a fascinating account of Walker and her times. Madam C. J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove to freed blacks in 1867. Sarah is proud that she is learning to read and write, and dreams of reading her mother's Bible and someday attending college. Her dreams are crushed when her parents, now tenant farmers on the same Delta, Louisiana, farm where they were once slaves, die of yellow fever in 1874. Eight-year-old Sarah and her siblings are left to struggle for survival on their own. By 1878, the crops were failing and their shack was all but falling down. A year later, Sarah and her sister, Lou, move to Vicksburg, Mississippi, to become washerwomen. The work is grueling but mind numbing. At 14, Sarah marries Moses McWilliams, a man she grows to love with all her heart, but who is killed less than a year later in one of Mississippi's infamous race riots. Devastated and left with a daughter, Lelia, to care for, Sarah moves to St. Louis. Life there is hard, but Sarah still dreams of college, of learning to read without having to struggle with each word. She has her own washing service and begins to save money so that Lelia can someday have the education she was categorically denied. St. Louis' Annie Malone begins a beauty supply business, hiring black women as representatives to sell the products door-to-door. Sarah admires Annie, but her products do not bring relief to her own itchy dandruff and dry scalp that have tormented her since childhood. In an effort to find relief, Sarah and Lelia being concocting different remedies in their kitchen. Thanks to the help of a dream about a field of black roses and the treatment of sulfur to an injury Lelia sustains, Sarah stumbles onto the secret formula that make hair grown-she is a living example that it works. A new business if founded! During this time she meets and marries C. J. Walker, an advertising whiz, and moves her business to Denver. With the help of C. J., but more of her own ambition and determination, Sarah begins her beauty supply business, recruiting women to sell it door-to-door. Before long, Sarah is the most sought after, most powerful woman, in America. Eventually she moves her business to Indianapolis and New York, where there is a more concentrated population of blacks. But the more time she spends working, the less time she has for Lelia and C. J. The three grow estranged and by the time of her death in 1919, Madame C. J. Walker was the wealthiest, loneliest woman in the United States. The Black Rose is more fiction than fact, according to Due who was in St. Louis recently. Scads of papers remain from The Madame C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company, which existed until the 1960s, but little personal documentation about this powerful woman have survived the years. Due reviewed thousands of interviews, documents, and papers that Alex Haley has complied before she began writing. 'I tried to be true to the spirit of Sarah Breedlove McWilliams Walker,' Due said. And from everything else I've read about this remarkable woman, Due has done as excellent job in capturing her essence. The Black Rose is a powerful, captivating tale of a real-life heroine.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2000

    Should be on the big screen!!

    A wonderful story of Madame CJ Walker's life, filled with passion and compassion. This should be turned into a movie for all to see.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2013

    Wow! I don't know what to say. Being a naturalist, I have always

    Wow! I don't know what to say. Being a naturalist, I have always thought, "Why did this lady have to introduce all of these hair products!". Now, I respect her story. I had know idea!  I will be reading more of the authors books, that is for sure!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Amazing

    Awesomeness in a book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2011

    GIVE MRS DUE A DOZEN ROSES FOR THIS INSTALLMENT!!!

    The foils and toils is our history told with great class. Im remined of this book each time I look in the mirrow to style my hair, one word greatful! If not for this book that bit of history was lost to me. We come from strong stock.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2000

    A Great and Inspiring Story!

    Tananarive Due writes a captivating and inspiring story about one remarkable woman, who overcame so many obstacles on a path to a better life for herself, her family and so many others. The story will grip you and keep you, while providing great contemporary context that shines new light on what it was like being an African-American around the turn of the century.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

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    Posted October 16, 2011

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    Posted January 9, 2011

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