Gwen Ifill's Bookshelf
By A'Lelia Bundles
The author is a friend, and for as long as I have known her she has been laboring under the burden of telling the story of Madam C.J. Walker, an African-American woman who developed a hair care empire in the early 1900s. Bundles is the great-great-granddaughter of Madam Walker. When I read this, I realized I'd once again found a book that showed me I didn't know as much as I'd thought. I associated Madam Walker with straightening hair. But she had an instinct that allowed her to build a business, to leave a town, to jettison allies who turned on her if that was necessary—all qualities which are now praised on Wall Street. This is a story never told about black life in America—the life of the black self-made bourgeoisie.