|The past of African Americans is painted with the struggles, and successes of heroes and sheroes. The life and legacy of one shero, Madam C. J. Walker, has been chronicled in two new books, one a historical nonfiction and the other a vivid document of history with a fictionalized narrative.
Madam C. J. Walker, a woman who did the impossible in impossible times, was America's first black female millionaire. Inside the two books On Her Own Ground --The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker, and The Black Rose, Walker's life is brought into full focus, giving readers the opportunity to experience what she went through to get what she wanted.
On Her Own Ground, written by A'Lelia Bundles, Madam C. J. Walker's great-great grand daughter, tells the story of Walker's life, revealing information that was once kept guarded in the pages of her personal letters and business records. When you open this book you will be able to take a look into the heart of Madam C. J. Walker as her business savvy, personal struggles, and triumphs are revealed. Readers will also get a glimpse into the relationships that Walker built with such memorable black figures as Booker T. Washington, and Mary McLeod Bethune. On Her Own Ground is due out in February.
The Black Rose, written by Tananarive Due, a writer chosen by the estate of the late Alex Haley to finish one of his greatest projects, also gives a history of the life of Madam C. J. Walker. But this novel adds a bit of fictional narrative to entertain the reader as Walker's story is given color and spark.
Madam C. J. Walker began her life in a sharecropper's cabin on a Louisiana plantation in 1867, born to former slaves. Both her parents were dead of yellow fever by the time she was 10 and she was left an uneducated and orphaned laundress. But she ultimately ended up as head of her own business that had 300 employees and 20,000 African-American female agents, who demonstrated and sold her hair products across the country. Madam C. J. Walker died in 1919 at age 51. She spent the last years of her life living in an ornate home with six stately white pillar columns at the entrance, four automobiles, eight servants, and a gold-leaf piano in the music room. She also acquired an extensive collection of literary works by Shakespeare, Balzac and Longfellow and an opera collection of six volumes that cost $15,000 back then.
This story is an essential read for all ages. It reaffirms that there is no limit to what African Americans can accomplish. Even in the grip of oppression and injustice our past heroes and sheroes emerged victorious. There is no reason why we can't do the same.