Celebrating Black History

Celebrating Black History: Madam C.J. Walker

Celebrating Black History: Madam C.J. Walker

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Madam C.J. Walker became the first black female self-made millionaire in America. She did it by building a hair care empire in Indianapolis.

Although she died 100 years ago, her life is now being celebrated. The theater bearing her name is under a multimillion-dollar renovation, and a Netflix special detailing her life will soon be released. Her great-great-granddaughter said Walker’s legacy is much more than hair care.

Madam Walker’s name stands boldly over her theater on Indiana Avenue. And the description bold seems fitting. In the early 1900s she did something that many thought just was not possible for most women or African Americans — she built a business empire.

“It was amazing that she pioneered the black hair care industry but the things that really interested me was what she did with that wealth and then she used it to become an activist,” said her great-great-granddaughter A’lelia Bundles.

Walker was born on a Louisiana plantation to newly freed slaves. But later in life, at 38 years old, she made the switch from a washer woman to a black hair care pioneer. ​And that’s not all, she spent a lot of her time advocating for anti-lynching legislation and women’s suffrage.

Her company employed thousands and she also developed educational programs to help women become financially independent.

“She said it was black people who built my company and so I really feel like I need to give back to my community,” said Bundles.

Named after Madam Walker’s daughter, Bundles grew up coming to the Madam Walker Theater.

She said it wasn’t until later in life, she took a close interest in Walker’s life. She said some would be shocked to learn Walker’s products were born out of desperation.

“She was losing her hair so the key for her is that she developed a shampoo and then anointment kind of like Vaseline that had sulfur.”

She said there’s a lot of misconceptions. Madam Walker did not invent the hot comb so we have to get rid of that myth.”

And she wasn’t big on hair-straightening products.

“Madam Walker was really about healthy hair. It’s really a misconception to think that she was primarily focused on straightening hair. I think she will be thrilled to see where we are right now,” said Bundles.

While no longer a major player in the hair care industry, Madam Walker products are back on the shelves with a special MCJW line.

The Netflix four-part series called “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” is based off A’leila Bundles’ book, “On Her Own Ground.” It’s scheduled to be released on March 20th.


Florida woman accused of zipping her boyfriend in suitcase for hours until he died

(CNN) — Sarah Boone called 911 and said her boyfriend got trapped in a suitcase and died during a game of hide-and-seek, according to court records.

The Florida couple had been drinking Chardonnay and doing puzzles Sunday night in their Winter Park apartment, Boone told authorities, when they thought “it would be funny” to hop in a suitcase as a part of the game, according to an arrest affidavit from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Boone, 42, zipped up Jorge Torres Jr. in the blue suitcase containing a few items for donating. Two of his fingers stuck out, so she assumed he could open it, according to the affidavit.

She went upstairs to bed and thought he’d get himself out of the suitcase and join her, only to wake up Monday and find him still in it and not breathing, the affidavit says.

Boone was arrested Tuesday and faces a second-degree murder charge after investigators determined videos on her phone contradicted her story.

The phone footage shows her mocking her boyfriend as she filmed his cries for help, and telling him it was his punishment for cheating, according to the arrest affidavit.

“I can’t f**king breathe, seriously,” her boyfriend said in the phone video. “That’s on you. Oh, that’s what I feel like when you cheat on me,” she responds.

The video shows the victim pushing on the suitcase and trying to get out, the affidavit says. When police showed the video to Boone, she pushed it away halfway through and said she didn’t want to watch it, the affidavit says.

Police searched her iPhone after she signed a waiver and gave verbal and written consent. CNN has reached out to her public defender.

Boone denied intentionally leaving Torres in the suitcase, according to the affidavit.

Boone called police Monday afternoon and said she woke up hours earlier but assumed her boyfriend was on his computer in another room. When she could not find him, she suddenly realized he was still in the suitcase.

“Sarah unzipped the suitcase and found Jorge unresponsive and not breathing,” the affidavit says. “Sarah zipped Jorge in the suitcase to where he could not get out. Jorge begged Sarah repeatedly telling her he could not breathe and Sarah left him in the suitcase … and demonstrated a depraved mind without regard for Jorge’s life.”

When police arrived at the scene, they found the victim near the front door with a laceration on his lip and bruising around his eye.

Boone is being held without bail. No cause of death is listed on the arrest affidavit.