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Beverly Lowry

Her Dream of Dreams: The Rise and Triumph of Madam C. J. Walker

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Madam C. J. Walker is an American rags-to-riches icon. Born to former slaves in Louisiana in 1867, she went on to become a prominent African American businesswoman and the first female self-made millionaire in U.S. history. The story of her transformation from a laundress to a tremendously successful entrepreneur is both inspirational and mysterious, as many of the details of her early life remain obscure. In this superior biography, Beverly Lowry’s abundant research fleshes out Walker’s thinly documented story and frames it in the roiling race relations of her day. Walker grew up illiterate and worked as a washerwoman well into her thirties before staking her future on a “Wonderful Hair Grower.” Defying all odds, Walker learned to read and write, mastered marketing and spin, and built a booming cosmetics empire that provided lucrative work for thousands of black women and allowed her to engage in philanthropy and civil rights activism until her death in a Westchester mansion in 1919. Spanning from the antebellum South to the Harlem Renaissance, Lowry brings this intriguing and important woman vividly to life.