I was all-state in four sports in New Jersey, but sometimes I couldn’t get served at a restaurant two blocks from my high school. There were no job opportunities then… the only thing a black youth could aspire to be was a bellboy or a pullman or an elevator operator, or, maybe, a teacher. There was a time when all we had was black baseball.
– Monte Irvin, baseball star in the Negro League and then in the MLB
“I was never bitter because I believed in the man upstairs. I continue to do my best. I let someone else be bitter. If I was bitter, I was only hurting me. I prefer to remember Bill Veeck and and Jim Hegan and Joe Gordon, the good guys. There is no point in talking about the others.”
“I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground.”
Madam CJ Walker was in her mid 30s and going bald. Which made her self conscious even though her look wasn’t unique for the time. It was the early 1900s, when bathing was still a luxury, a once a month event for most. And the lack of bathing kept hair, which was vulnerable to environmental hazards, from proper care.
Madam Walker found a solution. She created a mixture that she used on her own hair. And her hair began to grow back. She tried the product on her friends and it worked for them as well.
People in her community noticed. They wanted to use what she was using. And what she was using was now called Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower. Built from an initial investment of $1.25.
Madam Walker worked hard to grow her business. She sold everywhere. Dressed in a white blouse and long dark skirt, she went door-to-door, to churches and club gatherings, she sold through a mail-order catalog. To her customers she offered a dream, a way of life, a look to be proud of.
In 1910, she used $10,000 of her own savings to incorporate. She was the only shareholder. Her company made millions, and Madam CJ Walker became a millionaire.
“I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead.
It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death.
I want to have time to look for my children, to see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead.
Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
– Chief Joseph, Nez Perce Native American
Note: In 1877, the Nez Perce tribe was ordered to move to a reservation. The tribe refused to. Chief Joseph led them to Canada, fighting with the U.S. army over the entire 1,100 miles. Forty miles from the border, the tribe was trapped. After 5 days of fighting, the remaining 431 members of the tribe surrendered. This quote is from Chief Joseph’s surrender speech.