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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.185) Conclusion
Madam C. J. Walker's Gospel of Giving

Tyrone McKinley Freeman

University of Illinois Press

The conclusion brings together the lessons and insights provided by examining Walker’s philanthropic life. After summarizing the origins, evolution, and character of Madam Walker’s gospel of giving, it underscores the historical importance of black women’s philanthropy in undermining and resisting Jim Crow and its enduring role in ultimately dismantling the institution. Further, it suggests an approach to theorizing black women’s generosity as being based on five characteristics: proximity, “resourcefull-ness,” collaboration, incrementalism, and joy. It also affirms philanthropy as a powerful interpretive and analytical lens through which to examine African American life in general and black women in particular. It urges collaboration between scholars interested in philanthropy and black women to mutually strengthen intellectual inquiry and understanding of who counts as a philanthropist and what counts as philanthropic giving. It contends that Walker’s gospel of giving is more accessible as a model of generosity than the prevailing examples offered by today’s wealthiest 1 percent. It is certainly the direct inheritance of African Americans today, but relevant to all Americans, regardless of race, class or gender, interested in taking voluntary action in the twenty-first century.

Keywords:   generosity, black women, philanthropist, proximity, incrementalism, Jim Crow, fraternal organizations, philanthropy, women’s studies, African American studies

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