Journalist and author A’Lelia Bundles is passionate about history and current events. An admitted news junkie, she links the lessons of the past with knowledge of the present to weave a more complete and inclusive narrative of the American social, political and cultural landscape.
After three decades as a network television news executive and Emmy-award winning producer for NBC News and ABC News, she is at work on her fourth book The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, a biography of her great-grandmother and namesake. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Scribner)—about her entrepreneurial great-great-grandmother—was named a New York Times Notable Book.
Currently chairman of the board of the National Archives Foundation, she also is a Columbia University trustee and on the advisory boards of the March on Washington Film Festival and the Schlesinger Library at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
What's Your NativeAdVantage:
What do you do best?
Communicate and connect. As a journalist, I gather news and tell stories in books, on blogs and social media. As a biographer, I excavate little known stories of African American entrepreneurs, political activists and cultural icons. As a friend and colleague, I love to connect people with common interests and causes.
What makes you the best?
I love what I do. I am determined to do it well and to do it with a purpose that I hope is greater than myself. I write about the women in my family because they represent generations of ancestors whose stories deserve to be affirmed and celebrated. I write because I believe our nation will not heal and reach its full potential until we embrace our vast diversity and our connections to each other.
What are your aspirations?
To do as much as I can to raise awareness that African Americans are inextricably and undeniably involved in the earliest efforts to create and build America. To do whatever I can to empower women and people of color to claim their place at all levels of leadership, citizenship and ownership.
What’s past is prologue – Shakespeare
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana
As Americans we grow up not really knowing our own history, let alone the history of other nations and other people. Much of what we do manage to learn is incomplete. When history textbooks fail to acknowledge the centuries old labor, love and loyalty of our multi-ethnic citizenry, we develop amnesia and draw incorrect conclusions about who we are as a people. How can it be that we are re-fighting the battle for voting rights 50 years after the original March on Selma?
People: Women I Admire:
To name just a few
A’Lelia Mae Perry Bundles, my late mother, a brainy businesswoman with joie de vivre
Madam C. J. Walker, my great-great-grandmother, a pioneering entrepreneur and philanthropist, who empowered other women
A’Lelia Walker, my great-grandmother, a patron of the arts and legendary Harlem Renaissance party-giver
Drew Faust, Harvard president, a woman of intellect, vision and great common sense
Ava DuVernay, Selma director, who speaks her mind and stands her ground
Shonda Rhimes, CEO of Shondaland, who redefined television drama and opens doors for others
Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Counsel General, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, because of her sense of social justice and grasp of the law
The library in my house
Springtime under the wisteria vine in my backyard
Cecil’s in Harlem
Summer in Chicago
Radcliffe Yard in Cambridge, Massachuetts
The Rotunda at the National Archives
The Washington, DC skyline just before landing at National Airport
Sunrise just about any place (Paris, Martha’s Vineyard, Morningside Park with a view of Harlem)
Black angels and dolls
Anything purple (jewelry, boots, scarves, shawls, bedsheets)
(With Steven Spielberg and Ken Burns at the National Archives in November 2013)