If her mom was well-known as America"s first self-made woman millionaire, A"Lelia Walker had actually her very own calling card: the happiness Goddess the Harlem. None various other than Langston Hughes offered her that title, and also she certainly earned it.

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In Netflix"s new miniseries, Self-Made: influenced by the Life that Madam C.J. Walker—which is loosely based upon On Her very own Ground, a biography written by Walker"s very own great-great-granddaughterTiffany Haddish portrays A"Lelia pedestrian as a spirited, an imaginative heir to she mother"s haircare empire. But what to be the real woman like? Here"s what you must know about A"Lelia Walker, arts patron and also Harlem Renaissance-era legend.

She was born Lelia McWilliams in 1885.

Lelia (she"d include the "A" come her surname after her mom died) was Madam C.J. Walker"s only surviving child. She was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi to pedestrian (then sarah Breedlove) and also her very first husband, Moses McWilliams, who she married at 14.

By the moment Walker was 20, she was a widow. She and Lelia relocated to St. Louis, whereby Walker"s brothers were functioning as barbers.


After school, Lelia went to job-related for she mother.

Just about a year after ~ Madam C.J. Walker moved to Denver in 1905 come kickstart her business—selling her Wonderful Hair Grower and preaching the importance of her haircare method—Lelia complied with her come Colorado, with the intentionally of helping she mother"s company.

Lelia immediately took ~ above a leading duty in the business, holding down the ft in Denver while Madam C.J. Traveled about the country promoting she brand. Later, Leila would execute the exact same at the company"s new Pittsburgh headquarters, however she would additionally sometimes go on her own journeys to recruit sales agents and sell product. Madam C.J. Walker would relocate the company"s base when again come Indianapolis, where she also cleared up for a time herself, however Pittsburgh was Lelia"s critical stop before she relocated to new York.

Lelia"s just child to be her embraced daughter Mae.

Indianapolis-born Fairy Mae Bryant first endeared it s her to Madam C.J. Walker as a haircare model, yet Fairy Mae"s link to the Walkers grew, and eventually Lelia adopted her in 1912. The Walkers persuaded Fairy Mae"s mommy to let she daughter go by promise to allow Fairy Mae to continue her education, and by ensuring she would be trained to work-related in the business. The Walkers also enabled Fairy Mae to continue to be in contact with her biological family. Fairy Mae"s name was later changed to Mae walker Robinson (the Robinson comes from Lelia"s ex-husband), and she stayed Lelia"s sole child and also heir.


In the 1920s, Lelia ended up being a main figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Lelia took the lead on expanding the company"s visibility in Harlem, purchase a town home on 136th Street and also renovating it right into a residence and also hair salon. Later, she an unified it through the surrounding property, and spared no cost in developing a building that would serve not just as a location of business, but also a gathering space for the Harlem Renaissance"s best names.

Lelia threw lavish fêtes because that the social luminaries of her time, parties the were attended by the likes that Zora Neale Hurston and W.E.B. Du Bois, and also European royalty. Additionally, she held the Dark Tower, a formative literary salon for Harlem"s leading artists, and also helped to assistance some creators" pursuits.

There"s no clear evidence about her sexuality.

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The parties she threw were for sure spaces for world to be v whomever lock wished. As Harlem renaissance dancer Mabel Hampton later on recalled, "There to be men and also women, women and also women, and men and men, and also everyone did whatever they wanted to do"—but that isn"t well-documented if walker herself to be queer.

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Chloe FoussianesNews WriterChloe is a News Writer because that lifwynnfoundation.org, where she covers imperial news, native the latest additions to Meghan Markle’s staff to Queen Elizabeth’s monochrome fashions; she also writes about culture, frequently dissecting TV shows favor The Marvelous mrs Maisel and also Killing Eve.
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