Hello Meltingpot Readers,
You can’t talk about the Black hair business and not spend significant time on the influence and genius of Madam C.J. Walker. Born Sarah Breedlove, this single mother and daughter of slaves, built a multi-million dollar empire by selling hair care products to Black men and women (mostly women). But her impact on the world wasn’t restricted to beauty salons and barber shops. Madam C.J. Walker funneled her profits into the Black community, founding community centers, professional schools, and supporting the anti-lynching movement among other causes. She was a patron of the arts and the reason that thousands of Black women in the early to mid-20th century were able to walk away from demeaning and low-paying domestic jobs and launch their own careers as stylists, saleswomen and salon owners.
Lucky for us, Madam Walker’s great-great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, decided to turn her considerable talents as a journalist and writer into writing a deeply researched and well-written biography of her famous relative. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker is a delicious read that delves into all the details of not just Madam Walker’s amazing life, but of the burgeoning Black beauty business as well. And for young readers who would definitely be inspired by Madam Walker’s story of self-empowerment, Bundles penned an illustrated, shorter version of Madam’s life for the Black Americans of Achievement series from Chelsea House Publishers.
Needless to say, both of these books are among my favorites and most used in my research on Madam Walker and her remarkable contributions to the Black hair industry and modern Black culture.
Peace + Hair Grease!