Madam C. J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy During Jim Crow

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Founder of a beauty empire, Madam C. J. Walker was celebrated as America’s first self-made female millionaire in the early 1900s. Known as a leading African American entrepreneur, Walker was also devoted to an activist philanthropy aimed at empowering African Americans and challenging the injustices inflicted by Jim Crow.

Tyrone McKinley Freeman’s biography highlights how giving shaped Walker’s life before and after she became wealthy. Poor and widowed when she arrived in St. Louis in her twenties, Walker found mentorship among black churchgoers and working black women. Her adoption of faith, racial uplift, education, and self-help soon informed her dedication to assisting black women’s entrepreneurship, financial independence, and activism. Walker embedded her philanthropy in how she grew her business, forged alliances with groups like the National Association of Colored Women, funded schools and social service agencies led by African American women, and enlisted her company’s sales agents in local charity and advocacy work.

Additional information

Weight1.0 lbs
Dimensions9.0 × 6.0 × 1.0 in
Book Author

Date Published

September 29, 2020








University of Illinois Press

Year Published


1 review for Madam C. J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy During Jim Crow

  1. Audra Russell

    audra (verified owner)

    What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘philanthropy’? Rich white people? Money? Well this book is here to change your perspective on that. Madam CJ Walker was a millionaire, but she was also a philanthropist. However, this country’s definition of philanthropy excludes Walker and other Black philanthropists from its definition. This boom redefines the word in every sense, showing how Madame Walker was a philanthropist, but also showing that it’s about giving more than just money. After reading this, you’ll learn more about how dedicated she was to uplifting through giving and you’ll understand that philanthropy is part of Black culture. This book makes you to look at our Black past in a new light, a light that if you pay attention, shines on even those in our history who gave in ways other than money that were just as impactful.

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