She was born Sarah Breedlove on a plantation in Delta, Louisiana, where her parents had been slaves. At 14, she married to get a home of her own, to get away from a cruel brother-in-law with whom she was living. At 17, she had her only child, A'Lelia, who I'm named after.
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.
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.
I have lived almost seven decades. So I've had my hair journey where I wasn't comfortable with my hair.
DuBois - my intellectual hero - had written an obit of Madam, praising her... I began to see Madam Walker beyond the definitions others had given her.
I'd seen how 'Green Book' had been a box-office hit, but left pianist Don Shirley's family feeling betrayed because his life and relationships had been distorted.
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.
Have you noticed that almost all the change in the world goes to women? When was the last time you had a five pence piece? Exactly. In a Christmas pudding. All the rest of it is in women's handbags.
When I joined the Sunday Times the people I was competing with were all 10 or 15 years younger, they all had double firsts from Oxford or Cambridge, they were all bright as new pins.