Happy Birthday, Madam Walker! Born December 23, 1867)

Madam C. J. Walker

Madam C. J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana on December 23, 1867. Her prospects for success were nil.

Sarah Breedlove was born in this Delta, LA cabin in 1867


Yet, by the time she died in May 1919 at Villa Lewaro–her Irvington-on-Hudson, New York mansion–she had transformed herself into a millionaire entrepreneur, philanthropist, patron of the arts and political activist.

Madam Walker died at Villa Lewaro in May 1919.

To learn more about Walker’s life, visit the Madam Walker Family Archives’s Birthday Wish for Madam Walker

My Grandmother’s Harlem Renaissance Wedding

Mae Walker’s headdress was inspired by the recently opened King Tut tomb

© Whenever I see my grandmother Mae’s 1923 wedding photographs, I can’t help but marvel at the elegance and extravagance. I also can’t resist searching her eyes for clues to the drama I now know was roiling just behind the scrim of the carefully choreographed scenes.

Newspaper headlines from the Pittsburgh Courier –“Heiress Weds ‘Mid Pomp-Splendor”—to the New York World—“Thousands Attend Wedding of Negro Heiress in Harlem”—tell only part of the story.

Mae Walker's 1923 wedding was the social event of the season (aleliabundles.com)

For Harlem’s social event of the season and of the year, there were parties galore, guests from three continents and a groom from a prominent family. There also was a major glitch:  the bride was in love with someone else. (more…)