Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker” as Want to Read:
On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Oprah Winfrey is renowned for her media savvy, marketing sense, philanthropic efforts, and accumulated wealth (and the power that accompanies it). She's earned her rep, of course, and her path to stardom and influence couldn't have been easy. Imagine, then, how difficult it must have been a century ago for Madam C. J. Walker, America's first female African-American million ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Scribner (first published 2001)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about On Her Own Ground, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about On Her Own Ground

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 460)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Regina Lindsey
On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker by Alelia Perry Bundles
5 Stars and a heart

When I came across this passage in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book I captured it as a favorite quote because it resonated with me in terms of my reading habits. "That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressi
Dec 18, 2011 Lynell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in African American history
Recommended to Lynell by: Harris Snack and Yak
Shelves: biography, history
Our group felt that this biography of Madam C.J. Walker, written by her great-great-granddaughter, was well written and extremely well researched. The readers admired Madam for her persistence in keeping her eyes on the goal, even to the detriment of her health. We appreciated learning more about the history of African Americans in politics and the role of African American soldiers in WWI. Many in our group felt bogged down by the wealth of information, some of which seemed to detract from the m ...more
Dawn Lennon
It's startling finally to discover important business and social leaders who have made a big difference long forgotten. That's the case with Madam C.J. Walker, the most financially successful (actually serious wealthy) and notable black woman entrepreneur. On her own, she overcame abject poverty in the south in the late 1800s and years as a laundress after moving to the mid-West. Following, quite literally a dream, she came up with a formula to help black women grow hair routinely lost through a ...more
I first "met" Madam CJ Walker during my internship at the Women's Museum. We had a few of her cosmetics for display, and she just seemed like an amazing woman. The first African American millionaire, male or female, she created a cosmetics empire long before Mary Kay. This biography is written by her granddaughter, which is both a good and bad thing. She did an excellent job of setting the stage--Walker was definitely a part of the movers and shakers in Jim Crow America. That being said, it took ...more
This terrific biography examines the life of hair care maven Madam C.J. Walker from her humble roots to the worldwide reputation she possessed at the time of her death. Most people know about Madam Walker's accomplishments in beauty culture, but they probably don't know the extent of her philanthropy and social/political activism in the black community of her time. She was active in the anti-lynching movement, for example, and frequently gave money to schools and organizations that would help bl ...more
A’Lelia Bundles’ biography of Madam C. J. Walker, On Her Own Ground, was much more than I had anticipated. Part of the title is “The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker” but I was not prepared for the eye-opening effect African-American history – the ”times” part of the story - would have on me. It’s more than a backdrop to the life story of this most remarkable woman who was born to ex-slaves two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln. Born in Delta, Louisiana ...more
C Baker
What Madame C. J. Walker was able to accomplish in her lifetime is simply remarkable given the numerous impediments she encountered. She is the epitome of the rags to riches success story -- as well an example of what guts and determination really mean. While the biography is well written -- it's the facts themselves that make Madame Walker's story so intriguing and inspiring. Walker went from extreme poverty to wealthy business owner, civil rights leader, and philanthropist.

Madame Walker grew u
Dec 12, 2011 Dianne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers interested in history
Recommended to Dianne by: read for Harris library book club
Shelves: biography
I appreciated reading about a woman who made such a huge impact on the beauty industry as well as learning more about Madam C.J. Walker's innovative business philosophy, her strong desire to make a charitable impact, and her efforts to support racial equality. There is no question that she was an amazing woman. Where I appreciated learning about her set against the background of the social and cultural times, there was way more information in the book than I could digest.
Diane Lybbert
Incredible true story of Madam C.J. Walker, the first black female entrepreneur in US history to build a national business and become a millionaire. Her parents were freed slaves working as sharecroppers in 1876 when she was born. Self-educated and highly ambitious, she built an empire in the cosmetic business, developing products to heal unhealthy scalps and promote hair growth in black women. She trained other black women to sell the products and open salons, lifting an entire generation of po ...more
This is the second biography I've read on Madame C. J. Walker and it was written by her great-great-granddaughter.

I find Madame Walker fascinating in her accomplishments. She had so many obstacles to overcome and yet in spite of race, gender, and lack of education she founded her own business and became a millionaire. Hers is a story that ALL women can enjoy.

There's a lot of social history tossed in with the book of events that were impacting all African Americans of the time and for me that dis
Jul 17, 2014 Robyn marked it as to-read
I freely admit I'd not have picked this up but for my book club. Still, I'm glad I did. I learned a lot about the African-American situation after the Civil War, but prior to the Civil Rights era, and Madam Walker's was a true rags-to-riches story which was, unfortunately, all too rare in those times.
Nov 28, 2007 Graceann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Biography Fans
Shelves: biography
This biography lagged a little in the middle, but was all in all a very interesting story of the country's first African-American woman millionaire. She was an inspirational lady - successful in business life, not so much privately, but well worth exploring.
This was a well written and detailed biography that I read in graduate school at Howard University. I highly recommend this book to all who want to learn more about an African American icon.
Aug 27, 2007 Lp added it
My children are really into Madame CJ Walker (the things they learn in school these days!), and this looks interesting.
One of many autographed books. I have not started reading it yet!
November library book club selection
Helen Sitgraves
Helen Sitgraves marked it as to-read
May 14, 2015
Linda Harris-mcbride
Linda Harris-mcbride marked it as to-read
May 12, 2015
Durant marked it as to-read
May 11, 2015
Dana Gynther
Dana Gynther marked it as to-read
May 03, 2015
Tonya Marshall
Tonya Marshall marked it as to-read
May 02, 2015
Phyllis Perry
Phyllis Perry marked it as to-read
May 02, 2015
Janis Drayton
Janis Drayton marked it as to-read
Apr 30, 2015
Shernell marked it as to-read
Apr 30, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 15 16 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey and His Dream of Mother Africa
  • Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
  • Ida: A Sword among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching
  • Stokely: A Life
  • If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday
  • The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America's First Black Dynasty
  • Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World
  • The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen: Passing, Quicksand, and The Stories
  • Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God
  • The Fisher King: A Novel
  • The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America
  • Eudora Welty: A Biography
  • The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom
  • The State Boys Rebellion
  • Dorothy Dandridge
  • Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America
  • Growing Up X
  • I Put a Spell on You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone
A’Lelia Bundles is president of the Madam Walker/A’Lelia Walker Family Archives and author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling biography of her great-great-grandmother. After a 30-year career as an executive and Emmy award winning producer with NBC News and ABC News, she now devotes her time to writing and serving on nonprof ...more
More about A'Lelia Perry Bundles...
Madam C.J. Walker Madam C.J. Walker: Entrepreneur Madam Walker Theatre Center: An Indianapolis Treasure (Images of America: Indiana) Black Hair : Art, Style, and Culture Genealogy Tool Kit: Getting Started on Your Family History at the National Archives

Share This Book