Self-made lady boss Madam C.J. Walker is our Patron Saint of Feminism for February, so let’s take a look at her legacy today.
The entrepreneur’s empire, which began when she created a homemade scalp treatment product and began selling it locally, has continued into 2017, decades after her death.
The hair care products, which she created, manufactured, and sold herself in the early stages, made her the first African American female millionaire. Those products are now known as the Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture brand, providing everything from moisturizer to shampoo for natural hair styles. Four generations of Walker women were in charge of the brand before they sold it in 1985.
Not only would Madam Walker be proud of how far her brand has come, but I’m sure she would also appreciate the fact that her descendants have made names for themselves and ensured the continuation of women who win.
A’Lelia Bundles, Madam Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, is a journalist, author, and public speaker.
She covers various subjects as a public speaker, with entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and African American history being just some of those subjects. She also consults for the Beauty Culture brand and serves as historical advisor for them.
It’s no surprise that Bundles has written a biography about her iconic ancestor, Madam Walker. On Her Own Ground:The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker includes the background that some people may already be familiar with, as well as letters written by Madam Walker herself and photographs never seen by the public, thanks to the Walker family’s private collection.
Bundles also explores her great-grandmother’s life in On Her Own Ground. A’Lelia Walker was Madame C.J. Walker’s only child; she helped to found her mother’s manufacturing company, and became a well-known hostess during the Harlem Renaissance. She formed friendships with some of the greatest writers in African American history, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.
Hughes referred to Walker as the “joy goddess” of the Harlem Renaissance. Subsequently, Bundles’ next book is about A’Lelia Walker and is entitled Joy Goddess: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance.
For more on A’Lelia Bundles, visit her official website.
“There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.” – Madame C.J. Walker
[Source: A’Lelia Bundles / Walker Family Archives]