Madam Walker was a master marketer. But her brilliance was in taking it to another level by training women, by traveling, by making very motivational speeches and by providing independent income for women who otherwise would have to be maids and sharecroppers.
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.'
My mother was the fourth generation of women to have worked with the Walker company. As a little girl, I would go to her office while she worked. She was a very capable woman.
It's very hard to be a kid, especially in a predominantly white school or white town where other people want to police your body and hair.
Madam Walker was a woman who transformed herself in a very American, rags-to-riches way.
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.
I think Michelle Obama ought to wear her hair exactly the way she wants to wear her hair. I am not looking for Michelle Obama to cut her hair off like I have mine, very short. I'm not looking for her to do twists. I'm looking for her to wear what's comfortable for her.
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.
Madam Walker, as part of the first generation out of slavery, really was inventing the way that she operated in the world.
I was like other teenagers in the late 1960s; I too was very interested in having an Afro and getting rid of the perm that was in my hair.