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Madam C. J. Walker's Gospel of GivingBlack Women's Philanthropy during Jim Crow$
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Tyrone McKinley Freeman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043451

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043451.001.0001

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(p.143) 5 Material Resources
Madam C. J. Walker's Gospel of Giving

Tyrone McKinley Freeman

University of Illinois Press

Chapter 5 presents the range of material resources that Walker gifted to black individuals and organizations as an expression of her gospel of giving. Administered by her legal adviser, Freeman B. Ransom, these gifts reflected Walker’s philanthropic motivations during a period of significant financial growth for her company in the early 1910s. Drawing insights from the types of gifts given and the kinds and locations of recipients supported, the chapter demonstrates how black women’s philanthropy moved through black communities around the country. As a result, social needs were met, and a national infrastructure of organizations and networks was gradually constructed to navigate the debilitating effects of Jim Crow, and, eventually, dismantle the institution. The chapter presents four categories of giving by Walker: monetary, tangible nonmonetary items, employment, and institution building. It considers organizations she funded such as the colored branch of the YMCA and black schools and social services agencies, which were typically run by black women. Walker also engaged in criminal justice advocacy by funding attainment of pardons for black men jailed for murder. The geography of Walker’s giving emphasizes the importance of the cities of St. Louis, Missouri, and Indianapolis, Indiana, in her life story, as she maintained philanthropic commitments in those cities throughout her lifetime and afterward through her estate. The chapter examines Walker’s affinity for those cities and contrasts her gospel of giving, which emphasized the joy experienced in giving, with the larger scientific philanthropy movement of the era, which promoted rationalism over emotions in giving.

Keywords:   scientific philanthropy, rational philanthropy, joy of giving, YMCA, YWCA, institution building, vocational education, Booker T Washington, Tuskegee Institute, Jim Crow

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