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Can't Make This Up

On Her Own Ground with A’Lelia Bundles


In 1867, Sarah Breedlove was the first in her family to be born into freedom after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation had abolished slavery four years earlier. It is doubtful that any of her family could have guessed the remarkable course her life would take. Sarah came of age working as a domestic servant and a washerwoman. But she had far grander dreams and was determined her young daughter would receive a formal education. So she became an entrepreneur and developed her own haircare product. Ultimately, she became Madam C.J. Walker, owner of a successful company that employed thousands of women, a philanthropist, a social activist, and the first woman to become a millionaire.

Today, I am joined by Madam C.J. Walker's biographer and great-great-granddaughter, A'Lelia Bundles to discuss her book, "On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker." Before becoming a historian, A'Lelia had a 30-year career in journalism as an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News and NBC News. "On her Own Ground" has received numerous awards since its publication in 2001 and was adapted into the 4-part fictionalized miniseries by Netflix in 2020 titled "Self-Made" starring Octavia Spencer. Today, A'Lelia and I discuss what made her great-great-grandmother such a successful businesswoman, how she engaged with her contemporaries in the emerging civil rights movement like Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Ida B. Wells, and how her legacy is remembered today.

For more information about A'Lelia Bundles' research visit: www.aleliabundles.com and www.madamcjwalker.com

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This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one.