A'Lelia Bundles

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A'Lelia Bundles
Bundles in 2012
Born (1952-06-07) June 7, 1952 (age 71)
EducationHarvard College (BA)
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (MSJ)
  • journalist
  • news producer
  • author
FamilyA'Lelia Walker
Madam C. J. Walker
AwardsduPont Gold Baton, 1994
American Book Award, 1992
Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Book, 2002
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2015
MacDowell Colony Fellowship, 2017

A'Lelia Perry Bundles (born June 7, 1952)[2] is an American journalist, news producer and author, known for her 2001 biography of her great-great-grandmother Madam C. J. Walker.

Family and early life[edit]

A'Lelia Bundles grew up in Indianapolis in a family of civic minded business executives. She was named after her great-grandmother A'Lelia Walker (1885–1931), a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance[3] and daughter of entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker. Bundles' mother, A'Lelia Mae Perry Bundles (1928–1976), vice president of the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company and active in local and state Democratic politics, also served as a member of the Washington Township School Board and was a fiscal administrator with the City of Indianapolis. Her father, S. Henry Bundles Jr. (1927-2019),[4] became president of Summit Laboratories, another hair care manufacturer, in 1957 after having worked briefly with the Walker Company. He served as an Indianapolis 500 Festival director for many years and was a board member of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was the founding president [4] of the Center for Leadership Development, a youth enrichment organization in Indianapolis.

Bundles graduated in 1970 in the top five per cent of her class from North Central High School, where she was co-editor of the Northern Lights, vice president of student council and co-chair and founder of the human relations council, which addressed racial issues in a student population less than ten percent black. In 1974 Bundles graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges when women admitted to Radcliffe attended classes beside male students at Harvard and received a joint diploma.[5] She was inducted into Harvard's Alpha Iota chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.[6] Bundles received a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1976.[5]


She was a producer and executive with ABC News, serving as director of talent development in Washington, D.C., and New York; as deputy bureau chief in Washington, DC; as a producer for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings; and as chair of a diversity council advising ABC News president David Westin. Prior to joining ABC News, she was a producer with NBC News in the New York, Houston and Atlanta bureaus for The Today Show and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. She also was a producer in Washington, D.C., for two of NBC's magazine programs co-anchored by Connie Chung and Roger Mudd during the 1980s.

Her book, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker (Scribner, 2001), was named a New York Times' Notable Book in 2001,[7] and received the Association of Black Women Historians 2001 Letitia Woods Brown Prize for the best book on black women's history. In 2020, the book was adapted into the Netflix mini-series Self Made starring Octavia Spencer. Bundles' young adult book Madam C. J. Walker: Entrepreneur, (Chelsea House, 1991) received a 1992 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.[8]

She is a trustee emerita[5] of Columbia University and chair emerita of the Board of Directors of the National Archives Foundation.[9]

She is on several nonprofit boards including the Harvard Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study's Schlesinger Library, the March on Washington Film Festival,[10] Columbia Global Reports[11] and the Women's Suffrage National Monument Foundation.[12] Past board memberships include the Harvard Alumni Association nominating committee, the Harvard Club of Washington, DC board, the Radcliffe College Trustees Board, and the National Women's Hall of Fame board. She was president[13] of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association from 1999 to 2001 and chaired the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism's alumni advisory committee to change the school's alumni organization in 2006.[14]

Madam C. J. Walker and A'Lelia Walker Projects[edit]

As Madam C. J. Walker's great-great-granddaughter and biographer, she founded the Madam Walker Family Archives and represents the Walker estate for intellectual property and promotional matters. She is the brand historian[15] for MADAM[16] by Madam C. J. Walker, a line of hair care products manufactured by Sundial Brands (a division of Unilever) in partnership with Walmart.

She collaborated with Mattel on the production of a Madam Walker Barbie as part of Barbie's Inspiring Women Series in August 2022.[17]

Her nonfiction biography, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker was optioned for a 2020 Netflix series, Self Made, starring Octavia Spencer. She has discussed the historical inaccuracies and behind-the-scenes creative differences in several interviews, podcasts and articles including an Andscape article [18] where she wrote "I'd been part of a complex and frustrating dance as my nonfiction, fact-based material was translated from book to movie by scriptwriters whose visions, goals and sensibilities often were quite different from mine...I had been anticipating Hidden Figures. Instead The Real Housewives of Atlanta was staring back at me."[18]

Published works[edit]

  • On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker (Scribner, 2001)
  • Madam C. J. Walker: Entrepreneur (Chelsea House, 1991; revised 2008)
  • Madam Walker Theatre Center: An Indianapolis Treasure (Arcadia Publishing, 2013)
  • All about Madam C. J. Walker (Blue River Press/Cardinal Publishing, 2017)
  • "Madam C. J. Walker" and "A'Lelia Walker" entries in Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Higginbotham's African American National Biography
  • "Madam C. J. Walker" entry in Darlene Clark Hines's Black Women in America.
  • "Netflix's 'Self Made' Suffers from Self-Inflicted Wounds" (Andscape.com, May 12, 2020)


  • Forbes 50 Over 50 Impact List 2021[19]
  • Emmy Award (NBC News)
  • duPont Gold Baton (ABC News 1994)[20]
  • American Book Award 1992[8] for Madam C. J. Walker: Entrepreneur (Chelsea House, 1991)
  • The New York Times Notable Book for On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker 2001[7]
  • Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Book 2002 [21]
  • Letitia Woods Brown Book Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians 2001
  • Distinguished alumni awards from Harvard University, Radcliffe College (2004)[22] and Columbia University (2007)[14]
  • Honorary doctorate, Indiana University, 2003[23]
  • North Central High School Hall of Fame
  • Black Memorabilia Hall of Fame
  • Indiana Historical Society's Indiana Living Legend, 2021[24]


  1. ^ HistoryMakers, A'Lelia Bundles. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  2. ^ "A'Lelia Perry Bundles". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2004.
  3. ^ Casey Kenley (April 19, 2017). "A History of Her Own". Indianapolis Woman. Archived from the original on April 19, 2017.", ', February 2001,
  4. ^ a b "Honoring the life of S. Henry Bundles, Jr. founding president of the Center for Leadership Development". cldinc.org. Center for Leadership Development. April 4, 2019. Archived from the original on August 10, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Office of the Secretary of The University: A'Lelia Bundles". Columbia University. 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  6. ^ Resnick, Scott (June 9, 1999). "Phi Beta Kappa Honors Harvard Inductees". Harvard Crimson. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  7. ^ a b "Notable Books: Nonfiction". The New York Times. December 2, 2001. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  8. ^ a b American Booksellers Association (2013). "The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation [1980–2012]". BookWeb. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  9. ^ "Board of Directors - National Archives Foundation". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  10. ^ "March on Washington Film Festival".
  11. ^ "Columbia Global Reports".
  12. ^ "Womens Monument".
  13. ^ "Harvard Gazette: C.J. Walker's story is told at Radcliffe". Archived from the original on 2006-09-02. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  14. ^ a b "Trustee Bios". Columbia University. 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  15. ^ Martinbrough, Tiffany (31 August 2022). "New York Times: To Meet a New Generation, Legacy Black-Owned Business Get a Reboot". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "MADAM".
  17. ^ "People: How the Madam C.J. Walker Barbie Doll Came to Be, According to Her Great-Great-Granddaughter".
  18. ^ a b "Andscape.com: Netflix's 'Self Made' suffers from self-inflicted wounds". 12 May 2020.
  19. ^ "First-Ever 50 Over 50 Impact List, Showcasing Women Over 50 Leaving A Lasting Impact on the World". Forbes.
  20. ^ "ABC News Wins duPont Gold Baton". www.columbia.edu.
  21. ^ "Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards Winners (1994–Present)". www.infoplease.com.
  22. ^ "Radcliffe Institute to Honor Radcliffe and Harvard Women of Achievement - Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study – Harvard University". Archived from the original on 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  23. ^ "Recipients of Indiana University Honorary Degrees".
  24. ^ "Indiana Historical Society Announces 2021 Indiana Living Legends". Indiana Historical Society. 2021-08-25. Retrieved 2022-11-22.

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