Every ethnic group has a mythology... Until 'Roots'... there was nothing in the popular culture to refute the paragraph in elementary school history class that said, 'Slaves picked the cotton, were happy and life wasn't so bad.'
Madam C.J. Walker was born in 1867, two years after the civil war ended. She was a daughter of a slave. She had no formal education. Both her parents died by the time she was seven. Yet, by the time she died in 1919 at age 51, she was one of the most successful businesswomen America had ever seen.
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.
Many people have told me that once they learn of Madam Walker's accomplishments they are surprised, even embarrassed, that they have never heard of her. But they shouldn't be. Her extraordinary story was simply omitted from the history books.
We didn't sit around the dining table talking about Madam Walker, but the silverware that we used every day had her monogram on it and our china for special occasions had been Madam Walker's china... and the baby grand piano on which I learned to read music had been in A'Lelia Walker's apartment in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance.
She used her wealth and philanthropy to contribute to Black schools and colleges, she gave the largest gift the NAACP had ever received to it's anti-lynching fund... Madam Walker's life was one of transformation and re-invention.
There are five great ages of man - five moments when you need to reevaluate everything, clear out the cupboard and the wardrobe, and most importantly, your head. They are 13, 20, 30, 40 and 60. All men need to know this.
As handbags get ever more absurdly large, so they need to carry more stuff to validate the expense of this huge trunk with chains, buckles and padlocks on.
Everyone has to go to a funeral at some time and you need to be dark and sombre, and in a black tie.
Every man imagines that he will turn his suit like a double agent, that it can be twisted to his will with irony or comedy, that the man can undermine its origins.