Why is she Mrs. C.J. Walker? It really was a matter of her trying to insist that people respect her, because during that time, white people would call any black woman 'Sally.' 'Aunt Sally.' So this was like... you can't call me that.
A'Lelia Walker did not subsidize specific writers, but she provided a place for all kinds of people to gather. She was one of the few blacks who had the money to allow her to entertain in the large scale.
There was a period of 10 years where the conventional wisdom was Black shows don't sell overseas, therefore nobody is interested.
You know the AME Church has a history of empowering black people and having an international outlook. So it was the women of the church who began to give Sarah Breedlove an image of herself as something other than an illiterate washerwoman, and she wanted to make her life better, and her daughter's life better.
Madame Walker was one of the four iconic women who really created what's now the modern hair-care and cosmetics industry, and we know about her in the black community because everybody gets their hair done.
One of the key things for me about Madame Walker's life is that she really does represent this first generation out of slavery when black people were reinventing themselves, and as a woman who was the first child in her family born free, she was trying to figure out a way, and she moved from Delta, Louisiana.
To her credit, Madam Walker discerned that black women wanted to conform to white Victorian models of beauty. She was aware of the double- sidedness of her products - helping black women appear more European in look, with straight hair - but she always maintained that she was simply selling products that promoted hair growth.
Madame Walker selected Indianapolis as the headquarters for her growing business more than a century ago in 1910 because of its central location and thriving black business community.
Through the years, Madam Walker has certainly become a staple of anything that has to do with black history, women's history and entrepreneurship.
I know of at least two black women who are billionaires: Sheila Johnson, who co-founded BET, and Oprah Winfrey. And I know of hundreds of black women whose net worth is over $1 million.