Madame C.J. Walker Is My Favorite Self Made Billionaire, But I Need to Give Her Daughter, A'Lelia Walker, a Special S/O

Madame C.J. Walker Is My Favorite Self Made Billionaire, But I Need to Give Her Daughter, A'Lelia Walker, a Special S/O

A'Lelia Walker used her inheritance to support the local Harlem Renaissance and I can't thank her enough; her impact is still present today.

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The influence A'Lelia Walker had on New York during her lifetime started before she was born. Her mother, Madame C.J. Walker, was a key component to what A'Lelia accomplished for African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. A'Lelia influenced the culture within New York City threw her high status in business, inheritance, and admiration for the complex social life of Harlem.

She first began helping her mother in 1906 when they co-founded the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company in Denver, Colorado. The business moved from state to state around the United States. There was a family hair-care company in Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, Colorado, and New York.

The Walker family decided to move to New York around the 1920s; about the same time the Harlem Renaissance was taking place. She first arrived to New York to aid her mother in a rapidly growing company that involved hair care products specifically for colored women. Madame C.J Walker changed the game for natural hair and A'Lelia had a front row seat to her historic impact. A'Lelia had business experience at a very young age and took control of the local business when her mother traveled to other companies around the United States.

While A'Lelia lived in New York, she was amazed by the current culture and social life; the Harlem Renaissance was in its early stages. Initially called the "New Negro Movement," the Harlem Renaissance was a literary and intellectual movement that focused on a new cultural identity for black Americans in the 1920s and 1930s. A'Lelia did not become active in this movement until the death of her mother. On May 25, 1919, Madam C.J. Walker died of hypertension and natural hair culture was never the same. At age 51, Madam C.J. Walker died and was buried in New York and left a business behind that was worth more than $1 million. In other words, Madam C.J. Walker is now considered one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire. can I get an okurrrrrr?!?

Now,

imagine the inheritance left for A'Lelia after the death of her mother. A'Lelia Walker inherited the estate, Villa Lewaro, on the Hudson River north of New York City. This home was where her mother's funeral was held, and where she stayed most while in New York. Along with that, she was left a townhouse in Harlem on 136th Street near Lenox Avenue. Through the success of the Walker Company, A'Lelia was able to use that money to support local Harlem Renaissance artists, civil rights activists, black businessmen, etc.

In 1927, A'Lelia reconstructed a floor of the townhouse in Harlem into an exhibit called the "Dark Tower." This Harlem townhouse was meant to give support to renaissance artists and writers; a place where they could entertain. A'Lelia covered the expenses of two influential Harlem Renaissance artists, the writer Eric Walrond and the singer and writer Taylor Gordon.

The Dark Tower was open to many other artists and writers as well. Unfortunately, it closed in October 1928.

She later wrote,

"Having no talent or gift, but a love and keen appreciation for art, The Dark Tower was my contribution."

On August 16, 1931 A'Lelia Walker died of a cerebral hemorrhage in New Jersey at the age of 46 years old. She was a very loved individual in the Harlem community.

Well known Langston Hughes lovingly read a poem written for her funeral:

"So all who love laughterAnd joy and light

Let your prayers be as roses

For this queen of the night."

The home of the Walkers, Villa Lewaro, is now designated a National Historic Landmark. A'Lelia Walker is known to be an incredible businesswoman and a patron of the arts. To this day, we can't thank you enough for the support, A'Lelia. Your influence during the Harlem Renaissance still echoes in every black poet, entertainer, and artist- whether they know it or not.

Rest Easy Beautiful.


- to learn more about the beautiful life of A'Leila Walker, click here.

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51 Things My Mom Didn't Think I Was Listening To...

Yeah, you thought you were talking to a brick wall, but I swore I heard you, Mother.

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  • Always buckle your seatbelt
  • Laugh loudly
  • Take things lightly
  • Clean up your mess now…
  • …Cleaning up your mess four days from now is disgusting
  • Beauty is defined far beyond the outside
  • Respect yourself, always
  • Your siblings will one day be your best friends
  • Don't be scared to be who you are
  • Stand up for yourself
  • You can be just as strong as that boy is
  • Treat everyone you meet with respect…
  • …But don't ever let someone walk all over you
  • Walk away from anything that no longer serves you happiness
  • Put down your phone and go outside
  • Call home every once and a while
  • Always, always help others
  • Get a good night's rest
  • Believe in yourself above everything
  • Personal hygiene is not an option
  • Be the bigger person in all situations
  • No fight is worth the consequences
  • The minute a man puts his hands on you, walk away
  • You do not need someone to make you happy
  • Stay humble…
  • …You're never better than anyone else, ever.
  • Study hard
  • Do not ever rely on anyone for anything, you're capable
  • Don't expect handouts...
  • ..But don't be afraid to ask for help sometimes
  • You will never be alone
  • You are supported
  • Eat the dessert…
  • …Beauty is also not defined by a number on a scale
  • Stay organized
  • Prioritize
  • Procrastinating only hurts you
  • It's okay to hurt sometimes
  • Love with your whole heart and nothing less
  • Wash your blankets once in a while..
  • …Even the small ones you think you don't have to wash
  • Give yourself time to relax
  • Don't hold grudges
  • Don't drink…
  • ..And because you're a kid and will, don't ever get in the car with someone who has
  • Call me if you need a ride
  • Give more than you take
  • Don't skip breakfast
  • Do what will make you happiest
  • I am always proud of you
  • Don't forget, I love you
  • Cover Image Credit: Stephanie Therrien

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    We All Need An 'In Color' Conversation, While We Still Can

    The best way to keep memories is to pass them down.

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    I love country music, especially a little older country music that tells a true story. One of my favorite songs from any genre is "In Color" by Jamey Johnson. It's one of the most relatable songs for anyone from any background. As you listen to it you feel the descriptions and the emotions Johnson is trying to get across.

    Jamey Johnson - In Color YouTube

    The song starts out with a grandkid asking about a picture and if it's his granddad. A simple question that can start a vast conversation and pass down memories of old times. This specific picture causes the grandfather to start speaking on the tough times in the 1930s and life on a cotton farm. For me, I can feel the same way that Johnson felt hearing the memories his grandfather passed down to him because my grandfather has told me the same memories about growing up in the south in the 1930s on a large piece of farmland.

    The second verse goes into the grandfather showing a picture of him and his tail gunner Johnny McGee. He gives the information that McGee is a teacher from New Orleans and he had his back throughout the war. Though my granddad has never gone into anything that happened overseas in Korea, he will tell you stories for days about Camp Roberts in California. There's even a large picture of Camp Roberts hanging in his house. It's understandable he won't talk about what happened overseas because some Veterans will just tuck it away and it's how they handle it; however, hearing the tales about his basic training, his time on a boat headed overseas, and seeing pictures in his uniform still mean a lot to me.

    My favorite story he talks about is how he was used to running the fields on a farm just outside Phenix City and was used to running in the heat, but the guys from up north(especially Chicago and New York) would drop like flies from the dry California heat.

    The third and final verse describes a picture from their wedding. According to the granddad, it was a hot June that year before telling how red the rose was and how blue her eyes were. For most anyone, you will hear about your grandparents' wedding day and possibly see some pictures. My granddad to this day still talks about how blonde my grandmother was back then. It just helps bring my emotions more into the song.

    The one thing Johnson does say in the song that most people feel when hearing these stories or looking at black and white pictures is "A pictures worth a thousand words, but you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered, you should have seen it in color." There's a lot of stories I've heard from either my parents or grandparents and wished I could have been there.

    The music video for the song is so simple as well yet one of the best music videos I have ever seen. It starts in Black and white with Jamey Johnson sitting on a stool playing an acoustic guitar surrounded by hundreds of black and white pictures. It just brings the entire vibe of the song together. After the second chorus, the video starts to change from black and white to colorized and you see the pictures in their true colors.

    The first time I had a true "In Color" conversation my step-granddad on my mom's side who was the only granddad I had known for that side of the family was declining in health. I was 9 or 10 and an in-home nurse had been talking to him about all his life experiences and told me to go in and talk to my Paw Paw about them. I learned about his father died when he was 14 by getting kicked by a mule and about his many years of service in the National Guard. At that time I never realized how major that was but as I look back those are the moments I cherish and I will pass down those memories as well as the numerous times he'd run your feet over with his electric scooter.

    In eighth grade, I did a project on my dad's father and pulled out a box of old black and white pictures. These pictures ranged from him as a boy, his great grandfather, his first car, him in his service uniform, on up to him in suits on his business trips for the Columbus mills. I was older then and around the time I cherished learning more about his life and wish I knew where that box was just to have a look again.

    A couple years ago around my 21st birthday, I had an "In Color" conversation with my mother about my dad looking through pictures while drinking Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine. It had almost been two years since my father's death and though I'd had plenty of conversations about his high school days on the football field playing for ol' Dickie Brown to stealing Mr. Gays Batmobile to getting three licks pretty often. I'd even heard these stories from different friends of his from high school and hearing different sides makes you feel more and more like you were there. As we sat there looking at pictures my mom told my wife Sarina who hadn't heard many of the stories and I knew and old stories about her life and my dad's life till 4 in the morning.

    In conclusion, pictures can be passed down from generation to generation but unless you go through and talk about them then you won't pass down the story happening in the pictures. It is especially important just to sit down with a grandparent, a parent, an aunt or uncle, or an elder from your church or community to learn wisdom and about their life. I've had times I'll see an older couple or just an elder sitting alone at a restaurant and will pay for their meal(even if you can tell they have the money it's just a respect thing) or just talk to them. It can usually make their day and make them happy to share about their life with you if they don't have anyone else to. So let's keep the memories alive!

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