Dr. Amanda Foreman visits the family archive of Madame C. J. Walker to examine her rise to power. Photographs, documents and artefacts illustrate Walker’s journey from growing up on an old slave plantation to becoming the first African American businesswoman. During her lifetime, Walker built a large and prosperous business empire. She went on to use her success in business to advance the civil rights of African Americans in early 20th century America. Given the oppressive racist and sexist environment in America during this era, Walker’s achievements appear all the more remarkable.

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Pupils could be given the task of writing an obituary for Madame C. J. Walker, in which they assess her life, as well as her significance in the struggle for African American and female civil rights in America.