Tyrone McKinley Freeman, associate professor of philanthropic studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, recently won the Dan David Prize, the largest history prize in the world, alongside eight other outstanding early and mid-career scholars of history. He is the author of “Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy During Jim Crow,” released this past fall. The biography charts out the philanthropy of millionaire Madam C.J. Walker (born in 1867), who aimed to empower African Americans and challenge the injustices and violence of Jim Crow.
I recently caught up with Freeman to chat about his book, what inspired him to write it, the history of Black philanthropy and the state of Black philanthropy today. Here are some excerpts from that conversation, which have been edited for length and clarity.