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Madam C.J. Walker’s “Gospel of Giving” and African American Philanthropy

Madam C.J. Walker’s “Gospel of Giving” and African American Philanthropy
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Madam C.J. Walker’s life spanned the years following the Civil War and into the early Twentieth Century. Her ethic of giving, however, is “alive and well now” and applies to current events and social justice initiatives, according to Dr. Tyrone McKinley Freeman, author of the book, Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy During Jim Crow. Unlike other well-known philanthropists of her era, who gave after they achieved great financial success, Madam Walker gave along the way, to “uplift the race from the scourge of Jim Crow and racism.” She founded the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, a cosmetics company whose products reached customers nationally and internationally. Dr. Freeman explains that many people don’t see African Americans as philanthropists, just as recipients of others’ largesse. His book tries to “bridge the gap” and illustrate how generosity is part of a tradition related to values and religious ideals and exemplified by Madam Walker. He explains that “Over time, when our hope is merged with the hope of others through giving, mountains are moved and rivers are reversed.” Assistant Professor of Philanthropy and Director of Undergraduate Programs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Dr. Freeman presented a webinar with the Westchester Community Foundation on Madam Walker’s life. For more information, and a link to the webinar: Madam C.J. Walker