History KS3 / GCSE: Madame C. J. Walker, the first female African American millionaire

Dr. Amanda Foreman visits the family archive of Madame C. J. Walker to examine her rise to power.

Photographs, documents and artifacts 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.

This short film is from the BBC Two series, The Ascent of Woman.

Teacher Notes

In pairs, pupils could be asked to draw up a diagram comparing Walker to other significant campaigners such as Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou and Ella Baker.

Pupils could look at aspects such as: upbringing, beliefs, campaigns, achievements, and legacy.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history at KS3 and KS4/GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Fourth Level and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

More from The Ascent of Woman

Queen Elizabeth I and her use of language as propaganda
video
Buddhism and Shinto in Japan
video
An introduction to Confucianism
video
Buddhism and women in China
video
Where did the veil originate from?
video
Women in Ancient Greece
video
The fight for women’s education in Victorian Britain
video
How far did the USSR improve the status of women?
video
The development of the contraceptive pill
video
How Nur Jahan ruled the Mughal Empire
video
The fight for female rights in the French Revolution
video
Why were there witch hunts in the seventeenth century?
video
Women and the battle for equality in the church
video
How foot binding affected women in China
video