Her dream of dreams: the rise and triumph of Madam C.J. Walker
I am a woman that came from the cotton fields of the South; I was promoted from there to the wash-tub; then I was promoted to the cook kitchen, and from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations." --Madam C. J. Walker, National Negro Business League Convention, 1912Now, from a writer acclaimed for her novels and the memoir Crossed Over, a remarkable biography of a truly heroic figure.Madam C. J. Walker created a cosmetics empire and became known as the first female self-made millionaire in this nation's history, a noted philanthropist and champion of women's rights and economic freedom. These achievements seem nothing less than miraculous given that she was born, in 1867, to former slaves in a hamlet on the Mississippi River. How she came to live on another river, the Hudson, in a Westchester County mansion, and in a New York City town house, is at once inspirational and mysterious, because for all that is known about the famous entrepreneur, much that occurred before her magnificent transformation-years that trace a circuitous route across the country-remains obscure. By breathing life into scattered clues and dry facts, and with a deep understanding of the times and places through which Madam Walker moved, Beverly Lowry tells a story that stretches from the antebellum South to the Harlem Renaissance and bridges nearly a century of our history in her search for the distant truths of a woman who defied all odds and redefined conventional expectations."Wherever there was one colored person, whether it was a city, a town, or a puddle by the railroad tracks, everybody knew her name." --Violet Davis Reynolds, Stenographer, Madam C. J. Walker Co
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Her dream of dreams: the rise and triumph of Madam C. J. WalkerUser Review - Book Verdict
Historians have largely overlooked the remarkable success of Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919) in establishing a line of hair products for African Americans and amassing a personal fortune. On Her Own Ground, a recent biography by Walker's great-great-granddaughter, A'Lelia Perry Bundles, and this new book by noted novelist Lowry (Come Back, Lolly Ray) seek to remedy that omission. Lowry's documentary-style profile follows Walker from a sharecropper's cabin in post-Reconstruction Louisiana, to Vicksburg, MS; St. Louis; Denver; Indianapolis; Harlem; and ultimately an estate in Westchester County, NY, just after World War I. In Lowry's telling, Walker's accomplishments are counterbalanced by her struggle for acceptance among leaders of the black community such as Booker T. Washington, her competition with St. Louis businesswoman Annie Malone, and vignettes of race riots and lynchings. Lowry draws on her own Mississippi roots and, where sources are lacking, her skill as a novelist to augment substantial research in primary documents. The result is a vividly told story that will appeal to general readers and scholars alike. Recommended for public and academic libraries, alongside the biography by Bundles. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/02.]-Linda V. Carlisle, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville ...