The Shontavia Show

#33 - Madam C.J. Walker, entrepreneurship, and connecting your business to social justice, with A'Lelia Bundles

June 22, 2020 Shontavia Johnson, A'Lelia Bundles
The Shontavia Show
#33 - Madam C.J. Walker, entrepreneurship, and connecting your business to social justice, with A'Lelia Bundles
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This summer, my show will focus on entrepreneurs and business owners who connect their work and/or life to social justice. I can think of none more perfect to start with than Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in America. Madam Walker, who was born two years after slavery officially ended in the U.S., used her business to train women entrepreneurs, fund college scholarships, and support social justice causes.

In this episode, I speak with Mrs. A'Lelia Bundles, the author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, the 2001 New York Times Notable Book about her entrepreneurial great-great-grandmother that was the inspiration for Self Made, the 2020 Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer.

// Show Summary

03:27 How Madam C.J. Walker connected her business success to social justice 

05:10 How Madam Walker's close ties to American slavery, and other black entrepreneurs, shaped her views 

06:19 How Madam Walker helped create financial independence for her employees 

08:38 Current black entrepreneurs taking a public stand in favor of social justice 

09:56 How Madam Walker's time in St. Louis shaped her social views 

14:19 How Madam Walker helped her sales agents build generational wealth 

16:36 How black people can research early family history 

20:01 Why A'Lelia Walker, Madam Walker's daughter, deserves her own book 

22:45 Why A'Lelia Bundles hoped for "Hidden Figures" from Netflix but got "Real Housewives of Atlanta" with Self Made 

31:19 Why A'Lelia Bundles thinks it is so important for black stories to be told 

31:59 Why intellectual property ownership is so important 

// Show Notes

Websites of A'Lelia Bundles: https://aleliabundles.com/ and http://madamcjwalker.com/

Netflix’s ‘Self Made’ suffers from self-inflicted wounds: https://theundefeated.com/features/netflixs-self-made-suffers-from-self-inflicted-wounds/

On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Lisa Drew Books (Paperback)): https://amzn.to/2V28hab

All about Madam C. J. Walker: https://amzn.to/37KO8dO

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Shontavia Johnson:

What's up, y'all. Welcome to The Shontavia Show, where my goal is to help you start a business based on your life's vision. This ain't gonna be your daddy's business advice. I'm laser focused on entrepreneurship in the 21st century, vision and breaking the traditional mold. If you can get with that, you can get with me, be sure to visit shontavia.com for more episodes, blog posts, and other content. Thank you for listening. The show starts now. Hey everyone. I am so excited for this episode of the Shontavia Show. I have with me Ms. A'lelia Bundles, who is the author of On Her Own Ground, The Life and Times of Madam CJ Walker. It's the 2001 New York Times Notable Book. And it's about her entrepreneurial great-great grandmother , Madam CJ Walker, who was the inspiration for Self-Made, the 2020 Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer. Many of you who listened to this show are entrepreneurs. I hope you already know about Madam CJ Walker. If you don't, Madam CJ Walker is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist and political and social activist from the early 19 hundreds and late 18 hundreds. She's recorded as the first female self made millionaire in America in the Guinness Book of World Records and was just so dynamic in so many ways. A'lelia Bundles is at work on her fifth book about the life of her great grandmother. And the name of that book is The Joy Goddess of Harlem , A'Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, about her great grandmother A'Lelia Walker, whose parties arts patronage and international travels helped define that era. Ms. Bundles herself is a former network television news, executive and producer at both ABC News and NBC News. Ms. Bundles is a brand historian for MCJW, which is a line of haircare products inspired by Madam Walker's legacy. She's also a vice chairman of Columbia University's Board of Trustees and Chair Emerita of the Board of the National Archives Foundation. And clearly one of the most busy women in America with so many different things on your plate right now. Thank you so much for being here.

A'Lelia Bundles:

Well , thank you. And you talk about busy. You are like the must be the hardest working woman in show business. You have so many dimensions. I love that

Shontavia Johnson:

Well, thank you. Thank you very much. And one of my inspirations really is Madam CJ Walker, her story and her legacy. She was a phenomenal entrepreneur, but the other thing that was so dynamic for me with her story is what she did outside of business. She was also an activist and a philanthropist, and that's so important right now. It's June 2020. Look at the state of the United States right now, and the support around the world because similar things are happening all over the world. Madame Walker was integral in so many of the early civil rights movements and protests. She established a branch of the YMCA in Indianapolis's black community. She contributed to scholarships for black colleges, including the Tuskegee Institute. She would be vocal and speak publicly about politics, about economic inequity , about social issues. And one of the things I actually didn't know until I started doing some research for this interview is that she helped organize a protest, the Negro Silent Protest Parade in New York, where about 10,000 African-Americans, protested, social injustice and other inequities that were happening at that time, including the lynching of black people in the South, in Waco and in Memphis. And it's so timely to be having this conversation right now. Because you see businesses. I don't know if it's performative or if it's real, but supporting the movement now, this social justice movement against racism, against police brutality. And I wonder your thoughts about that, about connecting entrepreneurship and business to social justice.

A'Lelia Bundles:

Well, you know, let us hope that all of these corporations who are now pledging their money to , uh , funds that will change policing and that are involved in social justice, that there is, you know , some substance behind that. And, but I guess I could say it's better that they're doing that and then not doing that because things have changed. It's very different from when Kaepernick first started taking a knee, when people backed away and were critical of him. So that's just really not an option for most places that really want business from people of color. And it's interesting to see the makeup of the demonstrators. So that feels like progress right now. I hope it's a tipping point, but we feel like we've had many tipping points before. Madam Walker's case, she was really that part of that first generation out of slavery, she was born in December 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, but on the same plantation where her parents and older siblings had been enslaved, but that generation was essentially creating a world for themselves. They were left with no land, no money, after they had helped to create the wealth of America. And they had to start again from scratch to create businesses as they moved to cities. So she was among people like Booker T. Washington, like C.C. Spaulding, the founder of--one of the founders of North Carolina Mutual. Like Alonzo Herndon, a founder of Atlanta Life Insurance and people who were creating pharmacies and businesses. So she could see, she was part of that generation realizing that their economic health was very much tied to their health as people, their citizenship, their politics, their , and their ability to survive in an era when lynching was happening. So we , we see that as black people succeeded in business, they were often targeted in the way that Tulsa is the most dramatic example of this wholesale burning down of a business district, but successful black people in business were targeted. And Madam Walker was really trying to help create economic independence for black women who otherwise would have been maids and sharecroppers and laundresses working for other people. So she realized she created this wonderful hair grower and she realized that women were really glad to have products that were targeted for them, but they also needed education and they needed financial independence. And that became very much a part of her message to women.

Shontavia Johnson:

So do you think she, and you're a historian, you have researched her life extensively. Do you think she felt an obligation to not only provide economic independence, but also social equity. To, to fight against racial injustices? Do you think she felt an obligation to do that? Do you think it was rare at that time? Because I'm wondering, looking at our black business owners and our entrepreneurs and our very, very successful African-Americans today, we see some of those things happening. I don't know everything that's happening. Things are happening behind the scenes, but what responsibility do we have today? And are there things we can learn from Madam Walker's life about connecting your money to social justice and to reducing oppression and seeking justice for other people?

A'Lelia Bundles:

You know, it is, with this, the era of social media and we can't, there's so much going on right now. It's impossible to keep up, but it has been amazing to me to see the number of people, especially entertainers and athletes obviously have big followings and big platforms. But the number of people who are saying it is my obligation to use my platform, otherwise, what is this platform for? And they are getting enough support from people that they feel that they need to do it, but it's not just the entertainers and athletes who have a platform, and in many instances have a great financial means. It's also business people like Robert Smith , like Melissa Bradley, who created Ureeka, like Richelieu Dennis, the founding CEO of Sundial Brands, who now owns Essence and who has a venture capital fund for women of color entrepreneurs. Even , um, The Lip Bar, a black owned lipstick company, they're giving part of their , um, profits right now for social justice. So I think that people are seeing that. In Madam Walker's case, her history is one where the seeds were planted for activism. She lived in Delta, Louisiana, and her family minister was a black state Senator elected during Reconstruction, but he was chased out of Louisiana by the Ku Klux Klan because he was speaking up for black people. And her brothers left at the same time that they were older and they left at the same time as the family minister. So she had seen racial violence. I don't have a lot of details about that, but I know from Senate hearings, exactly what was going on. I can't pinpoint that 11 year old Sarah Breedlove was standing on the bank of the river, waving goodbye to her brothers, but I have to think that's probably what happened. Then after she got to St. Louis, her brothers were barbers. That meant they were in the leadership role when black men dominated the barbering trade and they belonged to St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal church, a church that had a history of activism. So she saw that activism there, and it was the women of the church who mentored this poor washerwoman Sarah Breedlove McWilliams, her first husband's name, and began to give her a vision of herself as something other than an illiterate washer woman . So by the time she's founded her business, she was modeling herself in many ways after the club women's movement. And when she held her first convention of her sales agents in 1917, she gave prizes to the women who sold the most products, also to the women who had contributed the most to charity in their churches. And she said to them, I want you as Walker Agents to show to the world that we care, not just about ourselves, but about others. And at the end of the convention, the women's sent a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson, urging him to support legislation to make lynching a federal crime. So she connected the dots between financial independence, being able to speak up for yourself and political activism.

Shontavia Johnson:

Gosh, that's beautiful. And in doing so, you know, we talk so much about generational wealth in the black community and creating things that we own so that we can create generational wealth. And so what you're talking about with Madam Walker is creating generational wealth within her own family, but also with all of these sales women who worked for her. And I'm wondering your thoughts about generational wealth. I don't know if you are a direct beneficiary of millions and millions of dollars, and that kinda thing, but you obviously inherited something, right? Some spirit, some tenacity. And I wonder your thoughts about generational wealth as a descendant of really one of the greatest made, home-grown millionaire stories in American history.

A'Lelia Bundles:

Right ? Right. So let, let, let me be clear. I did not have a trust fund, but what I do have is a spirit of entrepreneurship and, and five generations of people who were in business. And that comes from, you know , both sides of my mother's family, Madam CJ Walker, my mother's maternal side of the family. So obviously we, you know, we can see what happened there, but you know, the company struggled through the Depression and by the late 1950s, it was, you know , not a major player, but still the fact that a black business survived and actually never went out of business, though my family was no longer in an ownership role for about 30 years, between the eighties until the last decade, when Richelieu Dennis bought the company, bought the trademark and began to involve me. But we had that sense, that consciousness of black ownership. In my mother's father's family, his great grandfather had been elected to state office during reconstruction. His grandfather had been valedictorian of his class at Lincoln. He owned a general store. He owned a funeral home. So there is a sense of entrepreneurship in my family and in my father's family, although his parents were uneducated people and primarily laborers, they still had hustle. My father's father was , you know , during the Depression, he raised nine kids and he always had a side hustle. He had it , he was an herb man. He figured out ways to make money in other ways. He always owned a car, though he couldn't drive. But he had people take him around or he used the motor as a saw to cut kindling . So there were all kinds of things in my family that are about entrepreneurship. And I have my own sort of entrepreneurial spirit, although I will say real entrepreneurs pay other people and create and create a livelihood for them. But I'm just trying to, you know , monetize some of my speeches and the books that I write. What I do see generational wealth being created as a result of Madam Walker's legacy is the thousands of women who became Walker sales agents, who went to the Walker schools, who got diplomas and who would come to her conventions and talk about being able to buy homes, being able to educate their children, doing...becoming realtors, owning property, and that is how generational wealth is created. And it's sort of, for us, it is a combination of having education so that the next generation gets a leg up. And so I see even now people who say to me, who will find a diploma and say, my grandmother went to the Walker School, my great grandmother went to the Walker School and we still own the house that she bought. You know, so you can see that there , that she planted those seeds for people.

Shontavia Johnson:

Oh, most definitely. And still planting. I have a nine year old daughter who for her school project for third grade had to write about a famous historical figure. And she chose, of her own volition, Madam CJ Walker. And that label you have behind you of one of the products that brown label, she modeled her label for her product,after that one. It was her face, it's got her name over the top and she came to me and she had so many questions about entrepreneurship and about what it means to actually own your own thing, whatever that thing is. And so while you may not be an entrepreneur yourself, telling that story has just impacted so many lives. And I so appreciate you doing that, because you may not have people on the payroll, but you are inspiring lots and lots of people with that story.

A'Lelia Bundles:

That is, that is the real gift for me, that while I, while four generations of women in my family work at the Walker Company, my mother and father both encouraged me and my brothers to do the thing that we loved and writing was really the thing I love. But I think that if I'd been sort of pressed to go into the family business, I don't know that I would be as enthusiastic. But I feel that my contribution to the legacy is telling this inspirational story. So I feel like I've got, I've been given a great gift.

Shontavia Johnson:

So question about telling the story. So there are many of us who are descendants of slaves who want to tell the stories of our ancestors, but it's so incredibly difficult to find those stories, to find the historical documentation. I wonder your experience with it . I know-- maybe it's different because your great, great grandmother was so well known, but I wonder your experience finding that type of information to be able to now write what on your fifth book about your family, what that's been like for you.

A'Lelia Bundles:

You know , it is amazing what you can find. I think Skip Gates's-- Henry Louis Gates's show, Finding Your Roots, has shown us that you can, with the , you know, with the right skills and tools actually find things. And in Madam Walker's case, the first 38 years of her life, there is, there's no documentation. But I was able to reconstruct her life by going to more than a dozen cities and, you know , reading things from Senate hearings about how her family minister escaped and reading city directories. And now that there are literally hundreds of newspapers that have been digitized on newspapers.com, on Proclassed, on Genealogy Bank, people would be stunned to find that their family members, whether it's the church news or whatever, that they can find things about their, their families and their oral histories . And I tell people, when you, when you're cleaning out grandma's house, do not just say nobody wants those papers. Because all of those little documents tell a story. I'm able to tell Madam Walker's story, because we have almost 50,000 documents that were saved, because she hired the right people who were very clear about record keeping. And so those have been digitized there at the Indiana Historical Society. But I also have things that my, my mother's father saved . And in fact, I I'm cleaning out my house right now. I guess we're all, you know, sort of finding the things, you know, using this time to clean. And I found some , um, three by five cards today from a speech that my grandfather gave. Now, my grandfather has been dead since 1992, and this is a speech he must have given in the 1960s, where he's talking about his family and there road freedom and establishing businesses, but it's the oral history. So I always say to people have the youngest person in the family who can, you know , work the phone interview, the oldest person in the family, whether it's every Sunday, if they're going to visit grandma or whether it's the family reunion, and now you might have to do it on Zoom, but get the older members of the family to tell you those stories and those stories they will live because the next generation knows them. There are, there are ways that we can tell our story.

Shontavia Johnson:

No , that's amazing. So you've written four books telling these stories. You're on your fifth book now about your great grandmother, A'Lelia Walker, who was Madam Walker's daughter. And could you talk a bit more about that book? Why did you decide that now is the time for your great grandmother's story?

A'Lelia Bundles:

When I was writing On Her Own Ground, The Life and Times of Madam CJ Walker, I thought I was going to be doing like a double biography about both women, and about halfway through. I realized that A'Lelia Walker needed her own book, but I tried to develop the relationship between mother and daughter with these letters that they wrote almost every day to their attorney. I could tell what their conversation was, when they were getting along, when they were having conflicts, where they were traveling, all of those things. And when I wrote about Madam Walker, I realized that much of what it had been written, because there had never been a major biography of her, was either incorrect or inadequate. And I'm finding the same as I write about A'Lelia Walker. So after Madam Walker died in 1919, A'Lelia Walker continued to live in Harlem until her death in 1931. And she was trying to find her own path. What was her contribution going to be? Everyone compared her to her mother. Of course, you can never be that person who is the founding person. It is hard to be in the shadow of someone like that, and her passion, which was a passion that both women shared, was music and culture. And she turned that into The Dark Tower, her cultural salon and her parties with the artists and writers and musicians and actors of the Harlem Renaissance. So her story deserves its own platform.

Shontavia Johnson:

No , that's, that is important. And you're right. So I remember one of the very first coloring books I got was a coloring book about black history. And I remember one of the pages in the book about Madam Walker was that she had invented the straightening comb, so for years, I thought Madam Walker had invented the straightening comb. And so those inaccuracies are harmful. It's not just pages in a book or---I don't know if you can say it, I can say it. I felt like the Netflix special, Self-Made, was inaccurate and frankly, a little disrespectful to the legacy of Madam Walker. And you wrote a piece at the undefeated.com about that special and about your experience, trying to option your book, On Her Own Ground. And I wonder if you could speak to that a bit. I was so happy to see you had written that article, because my friends and I, and I am in many communities with women entrepreneurs, including Walker's Legacy, which I assume you're aware of. And , um, it was a bit disappointing. So I wonder if you could speak more to that, to that piece you wrote, to your experience getting the story told on screen.

A'Lelia Bundles:

Sure. So let me say first, I thought Octavia Spencer was great. I mean, I, I was really pleased that she was in the role. Every time she comes on the screen, I feel like the book that I've written is coming to life. And there were a few things that I really liked. I loved the wigs, because wigs are really, usually done really badly for black people. I loved the scene where Madam Walker, the character, is in the marketplace trying to convince women to use her product, because I thought that really kind of gave you a sense of what her struggle was like. That said there was a lot that I just really didn't like about the film. So, in the process of optioning a film, you know, there's a very Hollywood story, that I had at first--we talked about it with Alex Haley in the early eighties when he was still riding high from Roots. And I ended up doing research for what, going to be a mini series and a book that he was going to write. He became a mentor. I wrote a young adult book that came out in 91, but Alex died in 92 without having completed his project. But in the process, I met his editor, Lisa Drew, who had been the editor for Roots, and she became my editor for On Her Own Ground. And I then wrote that book. And while I was finishing that book, it was optioned by Columbia Tristar and Sony and CBS Television. But that project didn't get made. The option came back to me. Then it was optioned by HBO and that fell through and the rights came back to me. Then we had this decade of no black things get made because they don't sell overseas. That was Hollywood's conventional wisdom, then Selma and 12 Years of Slave and The Butler happened and Shonda Rhimes's success with How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal. So you couldn't tell that lie anymore, that nobody wants to see black people on screen. So then I started getting calls and I ended up signing with a company with the Mark Holder was the principal of this company. And he seemed to really value my research and thought Madam Walker's story was important, but once it was signed over with Warner Brothers and Netflix, typically the writer of the original material loses control. And in my case where I thought I was going to be integral to the conversations, the head writer, Nicole Asher and Kasi Lemmons, the director, decided to exclude me from the integral, you know, pivotal conversations. So that by the time I was able to see the scripts, everything had already been approved by Warner Brothers and Netflix, and this story line of this sort of fake colorism and this fake conflict between Madam Walker and the person who had in real life had been Annie Malone was set in stone. And while Madam Walker in Annie Malone in fact were rivals, they were not friends, but it was nothing like the kind of cat fight that we ended up seeing.

Shontavia Johnson:

So I was so glad you told this story at the undefeated and are recounting it now, in part, because so many people watch these fictionalized representations and think that's history. And it seems to happen a lot with us, with our stories. And we don't get that many opportunities to tell our stories and to , to see you speaking truth to what the real legacy was and what your experience was, was comforting for those of us who , uh , feel very strongly about accurate representations of black history, particularly like these types of stories. So I appreciate you setting the record straight a bit on what the true story was or is.

A'Lelia Bundles:

I'm just, I'm curious what you , what you thought about it, because I know the journey that I took, but I also was very conscious as I was raising my objections during the scripting process. And as the show was getting ready to come on, I knew that there were people who had expectations. So I'm , I'm just curious what your thoughts were about it.

Shontavia Johnson:

Well, so a few things, and I was so concerned about the story being told in a way that was sensationalized. That, I mean, to your point, the colorism between Annie Malone and Madam Walker in the series, I thought was unhelpful. I thought some of the artistic choices were just weird, like the music, and the boxing though, you know, I'm no artist . So who knows whether I think makes any sense. And I also, and this gets back to the point about me being a parent of children who are interested in these stories because their father and I talk to them about these stories, but also as the daughter of a black entrepreneur who has a black hair care company in the South. I wanted it to be done in a way where I could share it with my children. Where we could talk about the visual representation. My children are young, so they're not going to sit through a four hour documentary. They're not going to sit through a PBS special. I love that the PBS special Boss, I don't know if you have seen that Boss was phenomenal--

A'Lelia Bundles:

I'm in that!

Shontavia Johnson:

Of course, of course you are you're in that , but my nine year old is not going to sit through that. I hoped that this representation, because as you mentioned, Octavia Spencer was so dynamic, her acting is always just right on point, right. I just was disappointed that I can't share it with my children and not because of cursing, or, I mean, there's one kind of like sex scene, but not because of those things, but because it was historically inaccurate. So that's how I felt about it.

A'Lelia Bundles:

Well, you know, and I had , again, my expectations from the beginning, I was, I was hoping for Hidden Figures and I got Real Housewives of Atlanta. The number of kids who-- I help kids with their National History Day projects every year. I, you know, I can't resist a kid who emails me and says, I'm doing research, I'm doing a paper on Madam Walker. So I really was thinking about all of those kids. And I was imagining that we would have kind of a curriculum and that mothers and daughters would be able to watch it together. And then mothers started saying to me, well, I'm going to watch it with my daughter. And I thought, well , I don't really think so. And so that broke my heart, that I, that people couldn't really, you know , watch it.

Shontavia Johnson:

Yes. And I, again, I there's so much I could say about that. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I was glad to see that you agreed with everybody in my network. I'm not going to say exactly what was said, but what was that? And, you know, maybe I don't know if we should have had such high expectations or not. I don't know. They seemed to be, there were a lot of people of color in the writer's rooms and doing all these things. So we had these high expectations, but at any rate, I do appreciate your historical telling of the stories of your ancestors. And I wonder along those lines, what's next. So you're working on your fifth book. Are there other stories that you want to tell either about your own family or are there other stories you want to tell, are there other stories you think need to be told that aren't being told right now?

A'Lelia Bundles:

So I'm almost finished with the Joy Goddess of Harlem, the Biography of A'Lelia Walker. So I should be finished with that in the fall. And then that will be out next year. And that's a very different story from Madam Walker's story, it's really the, sort of the culture and the social scene, and as well as some politics during the 1920s. And that is my last really deep dive into telling a detailed historical book, I'm not doing that, because I really do want to enjoy the next decade, but there are stories to be told. And so I have some idea of, you know, some poems kind of long poems about some of these other people in my family who aren't famous, but who's , you know, who are the people who made a way out of no way. And I, and all of our stories need to be told because I'm a big believer that we, if we understand our family history, that helps us understand the larger American history. And we certainly are in a time when we need to be able to draw on the strengths of the ancestors. They give me strength when I know what they went through. And I think a lot of people just aren't able to draw on that. And so they take the okey-doke and they let somebody else define who they are and who our people are. And we need to know this, the strength that we've brought that is very much a part of our DNA that is going to sustain us in these really difficult times.

Shontavia Johnson:

I love that. And you've mentioned something a couple of times that I just want to explore a little and that's this concept of ownership. So you mentioned that even optioning your book, right , to all these different entities. You talked about Robert F. Smith. You talked about Sundial Brands, and I've heard Mr. Smith talk so many times about intellectual property and about owning the things we create. You talk about our ancestors and drawing on their strengths . They were the most innovative, creative dynamic people on this planet, to even be able to survive in the circumstances that they were in. And so what does that concept of ownership mean to you as you think about storytelling and entrepreneurship and creating the type of businesses and communities that can help our communities, in particular, move forward?

A'Lelia Bundles:

Yeah. You know, this is always like, how independent can you be? And I am now a woman of a certain age and there's really, nobody can fire me, you know , that can't be done. And everybody is not in that position. I think that I, that I'm able to speak up. And I was able to write that article because nobody owns me. And I think there are a lot of people who think the same things that I think, and who've had the same experiences that I've had, who don't feel t hey a re in a position to speak up. So those of us who can speak up to do that, and we have to figure out ways to sustain ourselves, to surround ourselves with people who are supportive, to move those people out of the way who are not supportive so that we are owning ourselves.

Shontavia Johnson:

No, that is great, great advice. So you mentioned your book is almost done. People will be able to buy that on your website. I presume, and Amazon and everywhere else. Where can people find you now? Are you on Twitter, on Instagram? Where can we find you to learn more about your work and hear about the things you're working on right now?

A'Lelia Bundles:

So my websites are ALeliabundles.com, ALeliabundles.com and MadamCJwalker.com, MadamCJwalker.com. And I'm on Twitter and Instagram @ALeliaBundles, no fancy, you know, obscure names, without the apostrophe. And you know, and I'm also on Facebook and this is an in--- it's been an interesting journey for me on, on social media. I have a pretty robust personal Facebook page where I post a lot of politics. I don't do that so much on my author's page, on Facebook. And on Twitter, I am because I'm a longtime journalist, I really use that as a source of information so I can know what's trending. I don't really get into political arguments with people, though, I'm finding right now, it is impossible not to comment. We must comment. We must stand up.

Shontavia Johnson:

We must. Yeah . So final question about that saying, we must stand up. I see so many business owners struggling a bit with this. Because they think-- and entertainers . I'm surrounded by so many creators, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and they're worried about their brands. They're worried about it's going to harm business. And why do you think it's so important? Particularly for business owners. It frustrates me to no end, I follow you on Twitter. I see your tweets. And I now am posting, it feels like every minute or so about something. Why do you think it's so important for people now to use their platforms in this way?

A'Lelia Bundles:

Yeah. Well, I mean, you have to figure out what your core values are and everybody doesn't, can't speak up in the same way. A highway has many lanes and so it may be that one person is quietly doing something and they don't feel comfortable being out there because the loan from the bank may not come through. I mean, there are real reasons why some people have to have to play the game a little bit differently, but we really cannot , um, don't have the luxury of not doing something. You know, I'm particularly grateful that Richelieu Dennis decided that he wanted to have some involvement in continuing Madam Walker's legacy, because his core value is building up the community, his community commerce and the way of philanthropy, the work that they deal with market women in Africa, the investment that he's making in women of color entrepreneurs, everything about what they are doing is to lift up our community and to invest in our community.

Shontavia Johnson:

Excellent. Thank you so much for being here with me today. This has been amazing. I appreciate the conversation.

A'Lelia Bundles:

I look forward to us staying in touch because I want to know what you're doing next.

Shontavia Johnson:

I'm happy to share. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Shontavia Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please be sure to like, subscribe and leave a comment wherever you're listening. You can find me on social media everywhere, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and wherever else @ShontaviaJEsq. You can also visit me at shontavia.com to find a transcript of this episode along with other show notes. While you're there, please be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter. The information shared in this podcast and through my other platforms is designed to educate you about business and entrepreneurship. And I love to do this work while I am a lawyer, though, the information I provide is not legal advice and does not create or constitute an attorney client relationship. The Shontavia Show is a LVRG Incorporated original. The show is recorded on site in South Carolina and produced at Sit N Spin Studio in Greenville, South Carolina. Original music and sound design is by Matt Morgan and Daniel Gregory. Mixing and mastering is by Daniel Gregory and the video is by GVL Media.

How Madam C.J. Walker connected her business success to social justice
How Madam Walker's close ties to American slavery, and other black entrepreneurs, shaped her views
How Madam Walker helped create financial independence for her employees
Current black entrepreneurs taking a public stand in favor of social justice
How Madam Walker's time in St. Louis shaped her social views
How Madam Walker helped her sales agents build generational wealth
How black people can research early family history
Why A'Lelia Walker, Madam Walker's daughter, deserves her own book
Why A'Lelia Bundles hoped for "Hidden Figures" from Netflix but got "Real Housewives of Atlanta" with Self-Made
Why A'Lelia Bundles thinks it is so important for black stories to be told
Why ownership is so important