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The Black Rose
The Black Rose By Tananarive Due
(Based On The Research And Writing of Alex Haley)

The Black RoseThe Black Rose (June 6, 2000)
Alex Haley became fascinated by the story of Madam C.J. Walker, and before his death in 1992 he embarked on the research and outline of a major novel based on her life. With The Black Rose, critically acclaimed writer Tananarive Due brings the work to inspiring completion.
Born to former slaves on a Louisiana plantation in 1867, Madam C.J. Walker rose from poverty and indignity to become America's first black female millionaire, the head of a hugely successful company, and a leading philanthropist in African American causes.
"I got my start by giving myself a start," Madam C.J. was fond of saying as she recounted her transformation from the uneducated laundress, Sarah Breedlove, to a woman of wealth, culture and celebrity. Madam C.J. was nearing forty and married to a maverick Denver newspaperman when the wonder-working hair care method she discovered changed her life. Seemingly overnight, she built a marketing empire that enlisted more than twenty thousand bright young African American women to demonstrate and sell her products door-to-door.
By the time she died in 1919, Madam C.J. Walker had constructed her own factory from the ground up, established a training school, and built a twenty-room mansion at Irvington on the Hudson, New York, called Villa Lawaro.
Madam C.J. also became a tireless activist in the fight against racial oppression and a key figure in the antilynching movement. A stalwart "race woman," she worked with black leaders like Booker T. Washington, and her legacy inspired poets like Langston Hughes.
Yet she paid a steep emotional price for her worldly triumphs. Betrayed by her husband, plagued by rumors of her beloved daughter's scandalous behavior, Madam C.J. suffered the private pain and disappointment all too familiar to many successful women.
In the tradition that made Alex Haley's Roots an international bestseller, Tananarive Due blends documented history, vivid dialogue, and a sweeping fictionalized narrative into a spellbinding portrait of Madam C.J. Walker and the unforgettable era in which she lived.
The Black Rose By Tananarive Due (eBook)
(Based On The Research And Writing of Alex Haley)
The Black Rose eBookExcerpts
Chapter One
DELTA, LOUISIANA
SPRING 1874
The slave-kitchers couldn't get her. Not so long as she stayed hid.
Stealthily, Sarah crouched her small frame behind the thick tangle of tall grass that pricked through the thin fabric of her dress, which was so worn at the hem that it had frayed into feathery threads that tickled her shins.
"Sarah, where you at?"
Sarah felt her heart leap when she heard the dreaded voice so close to her. That was the meanest, most devilish slave-kitcher of all, the one called Terrible Lou the Wicked. If Terrible Lou the Wicked caught her, Sarah knew she'd be sold west to the Indians for sure and she'd never see her family again. Sarah tried to slow her breathing so she could be quiet as a skulking cat. The brush near her stirred as Terrible Lou barreled through, searching for her. Sweat trickled into Sarah's eye, but she didn't move even to rub out the sting.
"See, I done tol' Mama 'bout how you do. Ain't nobody playin' no games with you! I'ma find you, watch. And when I do, I'ma break me off a switch, an' you better not holler."
A whipping! Sarah had heard Terrible Lou whipped little children half to death just for the fun of it, even babies.
Sarah was more determined than ever not to be caught. If Terrible Lou found her, Sarah decided she'd jump out and wrastle her to the ground. Sarah crouched closer to the ground, ready to spring. She felt her heart going boom-boom boom-boom deep in her chest. "Ain't no slave-kitcher takin' me!" Sarah yelled out, daring Terrible Lou.
"Yes, one is, too," Terrible Lou said, the voice suddenly much closer. "I'ma cut you up an' sell you in bits if you don't come an' git back to work."
Sarah saw her sister Louvenia's plaited head appear right in front of her, her teeth drawn back into a snarl, and she screamed. Louvenia was too big to wrastle! Screaming again, Sarah took off running in the high grass, and she could feel her sister's heels right behind her step for step. Louvenia was laughing, and soon Sarah was laughing, too, even though it made her lungs hurt because she was running so hard.
"You always playin' some game! Well, I'ma catch you, too. How come you so slow?" Louvenia said, forcing the words through her hard breaths, her legs pumping.
"How come you so ugly?" Sarah taunted, and shrieked again as Louvenia's arm lunged toward her, brushing the back of her dress. Sarah barely darted free with a spurt of speed.
"You gon' be pickin' rice 'til you fall an' drown in them rice fields downriver."
"No, I ain't neither! You the one gon' drown," Sarah said.
"You the one can't swim good."
"Can, too! Better'n you." By now, Sarah was nearly gasping from the effort of running as she climbed the knoll behind their house. Louvenia lunged after her legs, and they both tumbled into the overgrown crabgrass. They swatted at each other playfully, and Sarah tried to wriggle away, but Louvenia held her firmly around her waist..."
(This excerpt is presented under the Creative Commons License. © 2000 Tananarive Due and the Alex Haley Estate. All Rights Reserved.)
The Black Rose • Reviews
"This is a very enriching tale that every African American should read. This book is not just about making money. It's about a real life struggle to make a better life for not just self but for the entire black generation! Once you've read this story, you will immediately realize that had it not been for Madam C.J. Walker, us African Americans would not be where we are today (you'll have to read the book to figure out exactly what I'm talking about because I don't want to give it away)." - Vandenberg Afb, California.
"On a spiritual level The Black Rose reinforces many lessons: the importance of following your dreams, not giving into defeat, the importance of looking for practical solutions, working toward success in small increments and how to use your dreams for guidance and inspiration. At one point in The Black Rose, Sarah mentions that God gave her a gift for salesmanship and industriousness. This leads readers to ponder within themselves the equally great gifts that God has blessed them with." - Harlem, New York.
"What a terrific introduction to the life of the estimable Madam C.J. Walker. The author clearly represents her mission as a novelist, yet skillfully weaves what is known about specific events of this fascinating life into a web of how things might have come to pass. Particularly impressive to me was Tananarive Due's depiction of life in Vicksburg and St Louis after the Civil War had ended—and the fight continued to keep African Americans 'in their place'." - Longmont, Colorado.
"I have read each of Tananarive Due's books and have enjoyed them immensely. This account of Madame CJ Walker's life was such an enjoyable read. I am thankful that Ms. Due reminded readers in the end that this was a book of fiction because I had become so engrossed in the storyline, I must admit that I forgot it was fiction. I did not know much about the life of Madame Walker but this story shed a lot of light and most of all it stressed for me that you must not allow fear to stand in your path. I will continue to support anything written by Tananarive Due and thanks for a wonderful story." - Doraville, Georgia.
"I just finished The Black Rose, which I've been reading almost every waking moment. I just want to say that it's a shame some reviewers want to relate the entire story, which spoils it for those who have yet to read it. I read ALOT of books, all kinds. This was the most fantastic fictionalized biographical work I have ever read. I felt as if I knew Sarah personally, as her story was so vividly portrayed by the highly talented Tananarive Due" - Englewood, New Jersey.
"The Black Rose is the perfect title for this beautiful novel by one of America's finest writers. Tananarive Due is awesome! This novel is written with so much creative style, the words, sentences and scenes make you feel as if you are right in the middle of the cotton field with the main character. This read is like a love story; Madam Walker's love affair with everyone who passes through her life, every dream and positive or negative encounter, its about love. Ms. Due captures the story of an American Historian, Madam CJ Walker, and she guides her readers through the plight of the Madam's destiny. It's a beautiful affair." - Columbus, Ohio.

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