Madame C.J. Walker (in the driver’s seat at left) was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and social activist who became the first black woman millionaire in the United States. She made her fortune selling hair care products for women. She was born Sarah Breedlove to Louisiana sharecroppers in 1867. She was widowed by age 20 and went to work as a laundress in St. Louis, MO. After starting to lose her hair in 1905, she develped a product that helped with her condition and went on to create a whole system of hair treatment products specifically geared towards black women’s hair. She lived extravagantly, and her Manhattan townhouse would later become a meeting place for artists of the Harlem Renaissance. She also gave extravagantly to charities like the NAACP, black YMCA, and funded scholarships for women to the Tuskeegee Institute. She is ranked #85 of the 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: a Ranking Past and Present.
One of the biographies of Madame C.J. Walker available is On her own ground : the life and times of Madam C.J. Walker by A’Lelia Bundles, New York: Scribner, 2001.
Another more recent biography is “Her Dream of Dreams: the Rise and Triumph of Madame C.J. Walker, by Beverly Lowry, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.
It is difficult to overstate the impact Frederick Douglass had on the abolition movement in the 19th Century. He escaped slavery, fled to New York City and became a major figure in the movement. Rentschler Library has both of his famous books. His first, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, is a “testament to the evils of slavery, detailing its dehumanizing nature and its attempt to crush one’s spirit.” (Notable Black Americans, 1998). His second autobiography, My Bondage and my Freedom, “revises key portions of his original 1845 Narrative and extends the story of his life to include his experiences as a traveling lecturer in the United States as well as England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.” (Documenting the American South)
The book jacket above is a biography of Douglass, edited by L. Diane Barnes, using selected speeches and writings. One reviewer said it is a “well-collocated set of materials from across Douglass’s life” and provides “an approachable and meaningful introduction to the man and his ideas.”
1911 photo of Tubman, Library of Congress
February is African American History month and so this month the library’s blog is going to feature images, books, and other content to celebrate the contributions of African Americans, as well as info on any related events on our campuses. At left is Harriet Tubman, abolitionist, humanitarian and spy for the North during the U.S. Civil War.
Next up is the Taste of Soul Dinner & Silent Auction, on Feb. 11 from 6-9 p.m. at the Wilks Conference Center. Enjoy traditional soul food, a silent auction from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m., and entertainment by The Brotherhood Singer from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (55+), and $5 for Miami students and children under 12. Call 513-785-3024 or email kingmm (“at” symbol) miamioh.edu.