Every semester the Mercyhurst Student Government sponsors a Distinguished Speaker Series free to all students, staff, and faculty.
On Oct. 12, A’Lelia Bundles gave a presentation to the Mercyhurst community about her life, the life of her great-great-grandmother, Madam C.J. Walker, as well as her involvement in the television series Self Made, which is inspired by Walker’s life.
Bundles is not only an award-winning journalist, author, and engaging public speaker, but she also held other careers that have led her to where she is today. For three decades, A’Lelia Bundles was a network television news executive and producer. She is a recipient of an Emmy as well as a du Pont Gold Baton for television journalism.
Bundles is a 1974 graduate of magna cum laude of Harvard University and a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Despite the inability to gather in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center for an in-person speech, the Zoom talk was a success. One might argue that the nature of the Zoom call, it allowed for a more personal connection between Bundles and her audience.
With her vibrant and lively persona, Bundles gave a very engaging speech to all. She even called on students and other participants by name.
Sophomore Walker College senator, Alyssa Otto was one Student Government attendee present during Bundle’s speech. “I enjoyed listening to Ms. Bundles’ story on Madam C.J. Walker. We learned about the hardships she dealt with and the things she overcame to become a very successful woman,” Otto said.
In her presentation, she showed pictures from the life of C.J. Madam Walker and her resilience despite all of the obstacles that she faced, which led her to become the first black woman to become a self-made millionaire, through her sales of hair products.
By the end of the presentation, students were given time to ask Bundles any questions they had. Following the Q&A session with the general audience, a small select group of students was invited to join the MSG E-Board in a breakout room with Bundles. One of the students who got the pleasure of attending the Zoom call was Kali Beutler, MSG Public Relations Coordinator. She was tasked with helping to do all the preparatory work in letting students know about the Speaker Series through MSG’s various social media channels. “It was really nice to meet her. She talked about her experience as an author and her great-great-grandmother Madam C.J. Walker. It was super enjoyable to hear her talk about the inspirational story of a person of color and how that translates to today,” said Beutler. Events coordinator for MSG, Kailey Pisani, also enjoyed the interactive nature of the event.“She truly made our first Speaker Series of the year an amazing one. The overall experience was highly interactive, and students took the opportunity to engage in conversation. It couldn’t have been better,” Pisani said.
Those who participated in the speech were entered into a raffle to win a signed copy of Bundles’ book, “Self Made.”One of the winners of Bundles’ signed book was senior and MSG Ridge College Senator Aaron Qiao. “The Bundles speech was both an insightful and interesting presentation that allowed us to gain a greater appreciation of our freedoms and our more accepting environment today,” Qiao said. “While there are still issues within our society, Ms. Bun-dles emphasized our importance in changing the future for the better through education and civic engagement.”The breakout room ended leaving those lucky enough to attend inspired and filled with hope.
Her biography on Walker’s life entitled “Self-Made” inspired a new Netflix mini-series, “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” which premiered on Netflix in March 2020. Students are encouraged to check out the series or to read Bundles’ book.