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Hardcover On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker Book

ISBN: 0684825821

ISBN13: 9780684825823

On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker

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Book Overview

Soon to be a Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer, On Her Own Ground is the first full-scale biography of "one of the great success stories of American history" (The Philadelphia Inquirer), Madam... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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For Your Career's Sake

Why should an adult in a career transition take the time to read a 300-page book on a woman who has been dead since 1919? What does the daughter of freed slaves, who lived through reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Harlem Renaissance have to say to us of the high-tech twenty-first century? Why do we read about the development of hair care products which have long been replaced and improved upon?Fair questions. This new biography, written by the great-great granddaughter of Madam Walker, will surprise you, educate you, and (most importantly) motivate you. You have obstacles based on age, obsolete education, debt from college loans, child care problems, lack of confidence? Try comparing those with no education, a body stressed by laundry work and harsh chemicals, several husbands who abused her trust and undermined her business, mixed messages by her own community (including Booker T. Washington) about successful women, and an ungrateful daughter who never measured up to her work ethic and who enjoyed spending her mother's money. Ms. Bundles, whose journalism credentials include a Columbia University education and experience as deputy bureau chief in the ABC News Bureau in Washington, has told the story of Madam Walker within the context that few of us have been taught. From the records of post-civil war Louisiana to nineteenth-century segregated railway journeys to northern cities, from the St. Louis World's Fair displays of ranking levels of civilization by race to the role influential African Americans played demanding justice for returning black soldiers from World War I, this book presents the cultural contexts which have been too long denied. Read this book for inspiration. Read this book for understanding. Read this book because a potential employer might ask you, "What have you read recently?" You'll be proud of your answer.

Not Just About Hair Products -- About a "Race Woman"

To minimize Ms. Bundles' work as being merely a biography about a poor washerwoman who made her fortune in the then-unserved African American hair products market is to dismiss this wonderful work unfairly. "On Her Own Ground" is a wonderful portrait not just of Madam Walker's meteoric rise from abject poverty and cruel circumstances to unequaled wealth among the African American elite (and the non-African American elite, too), but about the politics of race and the politics within the African American leadership at the turn of the century. Simply put, Madam Walker was what was then known as a "race woman": A woman who used her money and influence to further the rights and opportunities of African Americans. Because of her immense wealth, she made herself a voice to be heard and a force to be reckoned with within the male-dominated African American leadership of her time (her refusing-to-be-denied quest to gain the respect of Booker T. Washington is sad, admirable and amusing all at the same time)and against the Jim Crow/"turn our heads and look away from racism" white leadership of the day. Her works on behalf of and huge donation to the black YMCA in Indianapolis, her $5,000 donation to the anti-lynching fund of the NAACP (the largest contribution to the NAACP at that time), and her charge that the Walker agents, the African American women who sold her products, not only better themselves but work towards the betterment of the race, made her a woman way ahead of her time. In reading this book, it made me question why my affirmative action generation has not accomplished nearly so much with so much more at our disposal.On a different note, Ms. Bundles is not a historian and does not pass herself off as being one. Unlike many historians, when Ms. Bundles does not know a fact for certain, she clearly states so and offers her theories as to what might have happened during some of the gaps in Madam Walker's history. And, in an act of intellectually honesty that is becoming increasingly rare, she never passes off her theories as the only possible explanations of what could have occurred, allowing the reader to engage in conjecture on her own, which, in my view, is all the more engaging. A thoroughly enjoyable read which I predict will become required reading in college African American studies' curricula.

A story of courage in a time of fear and cowardice.

Mme. Walker's story is one that has been told many times in many ways. This telling is especially moving and compelling, certainly more so because it comes from the great-great- granddaughter of the amazing Sarah Breedlove Walker. Compared to other more fictionalized accounts of the Walker women, on every page this story reminds us that we need not invent history. The real story of what has come before leaves little room for any other lesser telling based on fantasy and conjecture.What A'Lelia Bundles does here, as bespeakes her journalistic and humanitarian background, is wind the story of her family with the story of the times in which they lived. It is a dream come true for those of us who love to know more about the history of our elders. Indeed it gives context to actions in history which many of us have only heard of rather sporadically, without understanding how many seemingly minor incidents shaped the grander picture of history. So many little lights went on my mind as I read her extraordinarily researced tidbits of history. This easily-read tome should be required reading for every African American history class.What the world needs now is many more women to realize their strength within...something that was the essence of Mme. Walker's life. In reading "On Her Own Ground"...we better understand a goal for any woman's life today.

Our Magnificent Past

Way before Oprah (and this is not to knock her achievements)there was Madam C.J.Walker -- businesswoman, philanthropist, civic leader, feminist -- a black woman with unswerving faith in her ability to realize the life she dreamed. She believed it and she achieved it.A distinguished journalist who happens to be a direct descendant of Madam Walker, A'Leila Bundles has written a mesmerizing biography that will stand as the definitive account of the woman who revolutionized the black hair care industry. On Her Own Ground is unparalled in its contribution to the history of African-American women. Those of all races, creeds and colors who are interested in success,perseverance and the pursuit of one's destiny should definitely read this book. Especially useful for aspiring entrepreneurs and independent business owners with hopes of achieving Bill Gatesian or Oprah-esque financial and civic clout.

A compelling portrait of an American pioneer

On Her Own Ground details the life story of Madame C.J. Walker, best known for developing a line of hair care products. To know her only for this accomplishment would be short sighted, indeed. Born to slaves, Sarah Breedlove (her given name) was orphaned by age 7, married by age 14 and widowed with a small daughter by age 20. She was one of many women who took in washing to earn a living and to support her daughter. She began to experiment with hair salves when she noticed her hair was breaking and falling out. Tapping into a common problem for black women of the time, she began to produce and sell her discovery. This is also the story of a woman who was in the forefront of black educational and political movements of the early 1900's. She was friends (and sometimes adversaries) with many of the well known names of the time,including Booker T. Washington,Mary McLeod Bethune,and W.E.B DuBois. and a force behind providing educational and employment opportunities for African American women. Her daughter , who also helped run the family business was at the forefront of the Harlem Reniassance. Working against the prejudice of not only her race, but her sex, she built a family industry that exisits today ( although no longer in family hands).She built a home among the most wealthy of the time and enjoyed an income comprabable to any white, male executive of the time. A'Lelia Bundles has skillfully woven a complex portrait of a woman who shaped marketing techniques still used universally today. Using a wealth of family material (Bundles is the great-great granddaughter of Madam Walker)as well as other well documented sources, the author opens the door to a vibrant time in Black history, provides a historical context to help explain and compliment this amazing woman and tells a story so compelling that this is a hard book to put down.
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