NYX 360: 23 December, 2011

Sarah breedlove

Sarah Breedlove Walker

Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder

Today’s History – NYT:

  • On Dec. 23, 1867, Sarah Breedlove Walker, the American businesswoman and philanthropist considered to be the first black female millionaire, was born. Following her death on May 25, 1919, her brief obituary appeared in The Times.  You should read it.  It starts with this:

“Mrs. C. J. Walker, known as New York's wealthiest negress, having accumulated a fortune from the sale of so-called anti-kink hair tonic and from real estate investments in the last fourteen years, died yesterday morning at her country estate at Irvington-on-Hudson. She was proprietor of the Madame Walker hair dressing parlors at 108 West 136th Street and other places in the city. Her death recalled the unusual story of how she rose in twelve years from a washerwoman making only $1.50 a day to a position of wealth and influence among members of her race.

“Estimates of Mrs. Walker's fortune had run up to $1,000,000. She said herself two years ago that she was not yet a millionaire, but hoped to be some time, not that she wanted the money for herself, but for the good she could do with it. She spent $10,000 every year for the education of young negro men and women in Southern colleges and sent six youths to Tuskegee Institute every year. She recently gave $5,000 to the National Conference on Lynching. …”

Thus starts a glimpse of a remarkable life, in a different time.


  • Today also is the birthday of football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung of the then- and current-champion Green Bay Packers (76); Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna (71) and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam (48).

In the coming week, your humble blogger will be focusing on over-doing the eggnog, and so posting here will be light. Best wishes to all this holiday season, and I hope we have a peaceful and prosperous new year. 

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