12 Apr 2020 Black Entrepreneur Gets a Netflix Spotlight
I converted portions of that post and my old commentary that pushed for her to be the first woman on American paper money into a brand new commentary now available at American Greatness.
As I have advised then and now: “Coronavirus binge-watching these days doesn’t need to be limited to guilty pleasures like ‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘Tiger King.’”
While the series is “inspired by” the life of America’s first self-made female millionaire, there is still plenty of her good, factual story there. Its lessons about entrepreneurship and getting things done in spite of tremendous adversity are compelling and inspirational.
Describing her story, I write:
Born to recently freed slaves, the ambitious Walker rose from humble beginnings of picking cotton and washing clothes for pennies to founding and running her own factory, salons, beauty school and hair care business.
Motivated by her own pattern baldness, and utilizing her experience as a traveling saleswoman for another hair care entrepreneur, Walker developed her own hair treatment for black women and marketed it around the south as the “Walker Method.” She expanded her business with “Walker Agents” – giving well-paid, much-needed and empowering jobs to the same black women who were her customers.
And, without the philanthropic endeavors that dominated the later years of this capitalist hero, there interestingly might not have been an NAACP to complain about the problems of the free market. Or the cultural “Harlem Renaissance” about which to wax nostalgic during every PBS pledge drive.
Overlooking Hollywood’s desires to push a dubious LGBT B-story and to kneecap the legacy of black capitalism-booster Booker T. Washington, this four-episode miniseries in total is recommended viewing both for pleasure and to learn about a hidden piece of American history:
It shows Walker finding her motivation (“hair is power”), selling her products, doggedly seeking investors and promoting self-reliance in the black community. There’s even a scene showing the importance of guns for self-defense.
To read my review – “Netflix and Learn: The Woman Who Should Be on the $20 Bill” – in full on the American Greatness website, click here.