Madam C.J. Walker Paper

Madam C.J. Walker Paper - African American History...

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African American History Professor Curtin Yontii Wheeler November 23, 2009 “The Glory of A Woman Lies in Her Hair” 1 The multibillion dollar hair care industry today owes much of its success to Madam C.J. Walker. Her ability to create an extremely successful and dedicated enterprise during the early 18th century is illustrated in On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker written by her great-great-granddaughter A’ Lelia Bundles. Throughout this book, the author makes a correlation between Madam C.J. Walker’s strength, drive, and pledge to help other black women become successful with her desire to transform black women’s hair into something strong, graceful, elegant, and above all else, healthy. Bundle demonstrates Madam C.J. Walker’s dedication to helping African-American women and the race by using her self-achieved wealth to grant scholarships and jobs to poor blacks. A’ Lelia Bundles artfully lays out the life Madam C.J. Walker made for herself through the use of quotes and stories thereby describing the transforma- tion Sarah Breedlove made from being a poor sharecropper to becoming Madam C.J. Walker; a sophisticated, self-made millionaire and philanthropist during a devastatingly racist time. Although Madam C.J. Walker was born and raised in an environment that was not condu- cive to prosperity, ambition, or independence, some of her experiences as a young child gave birth to these concepts. Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 to parents Minerva and Owen Breedlove in the Delta of Louisiana. Sarah was born into a poor family and after her parents death, when she was a little younger than ten years old, she was forced to live with her older sister and cruel uncle, causing her to start fending for herself at a very young age. This in turn instilled a sense of independence and drive in Sarah that explains her unprecedented successfulness in the future. Sarah’s uncle was said to have beaten, abused, threatened, and taunted her, planting a seed that would later blossom into her resilient attitude, one of the keys to Sarah’s ability to gain prominence. After moving to Vicksburg with her sister 1 A’ Lelia Bundle, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Washington Square Press: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2002) p. 210. 1
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African American History Professor Curtin Yontii Wheeler November 23, 2009 and uncle, Sarah got a job as a laundress to help support the family. In Vicksburg Sarah fre- quently walked by and stared in admiration at beautiful gardens ornamenting the outside of many antebellum homes. Many years later while being interviewed for a magazine, Sarah stated that she “craved for the beautiful” and had an “inordinate desire to move among the things of culture and refinement.” 2 This foreshadowing quote illuminates reasons why Sarah was so driven to be- come prosperous. Since Sarah was raised in a violent household, she was determined to move out as soon
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This document was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course CHEM 10000 at GWU.

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Madam C.J. Walker Paper - African American History...

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