Madame C. J. Walker

Overview

Madam C.J. Walker-the first American woman of any race to become a self-made millionaire-started out as a laundress with few prospects. Originally named Sarah Breedlove, she was the first in her formerly enslaved family to be born free. Poor for most of her life, Walker invented a line of hair-care products when she was 37 years old. Eleven years later, she owned and operated her own thriving business, the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She trained thousands of consultants-almost all of them women-who ...
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Overview

Madam C.J. Walker-the first American woman of any race to become a self-made millionaire-started out as a laundress with few prospects. Originally named Sarah Breedlove, she was the first in her formerly enslaved family to be born free. Poor for most of her life, Walker invented a line of hair-care products when she was 37 years old. Eleven years later, she owned and operated her own thriving business, the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She trained thousands of consultants-almost all of them women-who purchased her products for resale to their customers throughout the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean. Through her work, Walker created a legacy of pride and do-it-yourself spirit that still resonates today.
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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Tracy Piombo
This series offers newly updated biographies of African American icons. Both Madam C. J. Walker and Spike Lee overcame significant hurdles to succeed in their respective fields, Walker as an entrepreneur and Lee as a film director, and both used their success for the betterment of their communities. Each created an industry specifically for African Americans, and provided them gainful employment opportunities that were not otherwise available. Although Walker's philanthropic efforts are a consistent theme in her biography, Abrams only briefly mentions Lee's philanthropy, focusing more on the social significance of his film work. Potentially controversial topics such as Walker's divorce and accusations of Lee's sexism and anti-Semitism are briefly discussed, but both biographers generally gloss over any intimate personal details in favor of a more thorough treatment of their subjects' working lives. Bundles, Walker's great-great granddaughter, makes her subject come alive by providing a much greater depth of historical background as well as a glimpse into Walker's thinking. In contrast, Abrams's biography of Lee seems bland and impersonal. Libraries should consider biographies of Walker and Lee, but because these Legacy Editions are very close to the originals, the decision to replace older copies is not as obvious. Although Abrams's update includes a thorough discussion of Lee's groundbreaking 2006 documentary of hurricane Katrina, the writing does not flow nearly as well as in the original version by James Earl Hardy. The new covers are more uniform and professional, but in Lee's case less appealing. Libraries serving older teenagers might instead purchase Bundles's adult biography,On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker (Scribner, 2001). Other titles in the series profile President Barack Obama, Alex Haley, George Washington Carver, and many more diverse personalities. Reviewer: Tracy Piombo
Children's Literature - Kristy Lyn Sutorius
Madam C. J. Walker's great-great-granddaughter pens a definitive look at the beauty mogul's life and work. Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 to former slaves, Walker knew the value of hard work. A tumultuous home life catapulted her into marriage at the young age of fourteen. A few years later, she gave birth to her daughter Lelia, who later became A'Lelia, her business partner, fellow innovator and biggest supporter. In the meantime, life took Walker to St. Louis. There, she began working for Annie Malone, selling her successful Poro hair care products for black women. Off to Denver with the business tips she gleaned from Malone, Walker started the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Walker's revolutionary products remedied common problems black women experienced with their hair, including balding, dandruff, and hair loss. While outstanding for her contributions to the beauty industry, Walker is equally memorable for her compassion and desire to see other women succeed. For a slightly different take on Walker's time working for Annie Malone, see Business Leaders: The Faces Behind Beauty by Wanda Lang. Bundles' status as relative doesn't diminish her thorough and intriguing coverage of the accomplishments of the distinguished Madam. Recommended for most collections. Reviewer: Kristy Lyn Sutorius
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Product Details

Table of Contents


"Hit Often and Hit Hard"     1
Motherless Child     9
Sarah's Dream     18
Gearing Up     33
"My Own Factory on My Own Ground"     42
"Don't Sit Down and Wait"     51
"We Should Protest"     63
"A Conference of Interest to the Race"     76
The Legacy     84
Chronology     94
Further Reading     96
Index     99
About the Author     103
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