Tyrone Freeman, Assistant Professor of Philanthropic Studies; Director of Undergraduate Programs, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
"The Process of Researching, Writing, Revising, and Publishing Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow"
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Abstract: In researching the life of Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919), the early twentieth century African American female philanthropist and entrepreneur, I found that the current historiography and archival practices of American philanthropy offered little context or method for seeing, understanding and engaging her approach to giving on its own terms. She did not fit within the ways historians have framed the history of philanthropy in America, and reading her archives required a different kind of nuance and approach. By engaging the historiographies and scholarly communities of Black women’s history and African American life and culture, I constructed frameworks and lenses for viewing Walker, her peers and her community in context. As a result, I articulated a vibrant and deeply rooted history and tradition of giving not well represented in extant philanthropy historiography.
In this presentation, I will explore the historiographies and methodologies of Black Women’s History and Africana Studies that informed this process of bringing my historical research to life in Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow (University of Illinois Press, 2020). I will review the book’s key arguments and conceptual frameworks regarding the historical character of Black women’s giving, the nature of philanthropy as a human phenomenon, and discuss why I think it is a philanthropic studies text.
Bio: Tyrone McKinley Freeman is an award-winning scholar who serves as assistant professor of philanthropic studies and director of undergraduate programs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and adjunct assistant professor of Africana Studies at IUPUI. Previously, he was a professional fundraiser for social services, community development, and higher education organizations. He was also associate director of The Fund Raising School where he trained nonprofit leaders in the United States, Africa, Asia, and Europe. His research focuses on the history of African American philanthropy, philanthropy in communities of color, the history of American philanthropy, and philanthropy and fundraising in higher education. His book, Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow (University of Illinois Press, 2020) examines African American women’s generosity and history of charitable giving, activism, education, and social service provision through the life and example of Madam C.J. Walker, the early twentieth century philanthropist and entrepreneur.