Madame C.J Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, on December 23, 1867 was the first of her family to be born free and was orphaned at age seven. After being widowed by the young age of 20 Breedlove then moved to St. Louis and worked as a laundress and was able to save up enough to educate her daughter. At this time Breedlove found her religion at the church of St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal, this new community also helped her to develop her oration, interpersonal and organizational skills.
After suffering from a scalp ailment the left her temporarily bald Sarah moved to Denver, Colorado and became interested in hair tonic. Sarah then married her third husband, Charles Joseph Walker, and changed her name to Madam C.J Walker. Walker then opened Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company to sell hair care products and cosmetics. In the year 1910 Walker moved her business to Indianapolis and it then became the largest company in the U.S owned by an African American.
Walker helped this certain era and empowered colored woman by taking great pride in profitable employment and alternative domestic labor. One of her employees started under Walkers influence and went on to lead the next generation of African American beauty entrepreneurs. When Walker passed in May of 1919 she left two-thirds of her estate to educations institutions and charities including the NAACP, the Tuskegee Institute and Bethune-Cookman College.
I had never heard of Madame C.J. Walker before this assignment but was automatically intrigued by the fact that we share the same birthday and for the fact that she once lived in Colorado. I was humbled by the fact the Walker was voted by the Guinness Book of Records as the first female African-American self-made millionaire where she could have taken that money all to herself and never made a name for herself. Yet, instead she used her money to empower African American women with jobs and influence them to carry of the fight for women’s rights. I think Madame C.J. Walker can teach me that no matter where you start in life to always remember your roots and fight for what you believe in no matter how hard the road my be.
Bundles, A'Lelia P. (2001) On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker. Scribner; ISBN 0-684-82582-1.
"Madam C.J. Walker–Beauty Culturist Dies", Chicago Defender, Robert Abbott, 1919-05-31.