Madam CJ Walker exhibit at Museum of African American History and Culture

Madam CJ Walker honored at new museum

WASHINGTON (CBS) --  In just a few days the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will open its doors.  The museum's curators were tasked with collecting black history artifacts from around the country.  And as Andrea Roane reports, a local woman is one of the donators.

A'lelia Bundles lives in the DC area. She gave the museum priceless family heirlooms linked to one of the country's first African American business moguls.  Bundles is the great-great granddaughter of Madam CJ Walker.  

"This is a story that had to be told," says Bundles.

Madam CJ Walker was born shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation. Here parents were slaves on a plantation in Louisiana. With some guidance from her brothers, who were barbers, she developed a hair care line for African Americans. It took off and by 1910 she had started a beauty school and built a factory--employing 3-thousand people.

"The greater gift is I will be able to see other people enjoy them and when I am gone, the items will still be there," says Bundles.
 
"She was a pioneer in the beauty culture.  It was very difficult for African Americans to have that kind of earning power during those times," says Deborah Tulani Salahu-Din, a curator at the museum.
 
"I really can't wait to walk through those doors," says Bundles. 
 
In addition to being an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Madam Walker was also a poltiical and social activist.  And her products can still be found on store shelves today--with updated ingredients and sleek new packaging.
 

 


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