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On My Own Ground: Madam C.J. Walker and Identity

45 min

Walk-In-The-Shoes Questions
As you read, imagine you are the protagonist.

  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What fears or concerns might you have?
  • What may prevent you from acting in the way you ought?

Observation Questions

  • Sarah Breedlove started from a position of extreme poverty and a target of abuse. How do you think she found the strength of character to change her life to one of power and generosity?
  • What contributions did Madam C.J. Walker make to the advancement of freedom through her approach to understanding both her own identity and the American identity?
  • In what ways did Walker’s experiences as destitute sharecropper contribute to her ability to fight for the freedom of others?

Discussion Questions
Discuss the following questions with your students.

  • What is the historical context of the narrative?
  • What historical circumstances presented a challenge to the protagonist?
  • How and why did the individual exhibit a moral and/or civic virtue in facing and overcoming the challenge?
  • How did the exercise of the virtue benefit civil society?
  • How might exercise of the virtue benefit the protagonist?
  • What might the exercise of the virtue cost the protagonist?
  • Would you react the same under similar circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How can you act similarly in your own life? What obstacles must you overcome in order to do so?
  • Students will understand how Madam C. J. Walker challenged the gender roles, prejudice, and discrimination of her times in America.
  • Students will analyze their own actions, goals, and ambitions to determine how identity contributes to the achievement of worthy goals.

Student Handouts