Madame C.J. Walker
Birth: December 23, 1867
Death: May 25, 1919
Madame C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867. She had one sister and 4 brothers. When she was 7 yrs old, her parents died of Yellow Fever. She and her sister moved to Vicksgurg, Mississippi in 1878 where they took up employment as maids. She got married at the age of 14 to Moses McWilliams, and they had a daughter, A'Leila Walker. She got married two additional times, one ending with her being a widow and the other in divorce.
Madame C.J. Walker is known for inventing hair and scalp products for African-American women. She herself suffered from a scalp condition that made her hair fall out. She was criticized by others for trying to make African-American women's hair look more like that of a white woman's, but she said that her products were made to help African-American women hair grow and be healthy. Her hair products were sold all over the country. She had a beauty training school for two years in Pittsburgh called the Leile College for Walker Hair Culturists.She is known as the first African-American woman millionaire, and some think that she was the first woman millionaire.
She was an inspiration to women everywhere. She understood that women wanted to know how she became so successful, so while she lectured about her products, she also empowered women to start businesses. She was interested in empowering woman and showing/telling them that they could do what she was doing. One of her famous quotes were "I got myself a start by giving myself a start."
Madame C.J. Walker was also a Civil Rights advocate. After the East St. Louis riots in 1917, she committed herself to making lynching a federal crime. She was a keynote speaker at NAACP anti-lynching events. She donated large amounts of money to the NAACP lynching events and also, later on in her life, supported black schools, individuals, YWCA's, orphanages and more.
The only thing I knew about Madame C.J. Walker was that she invented the "perm" for black women. I didn't know that she was a civil rights activist and that she helped so many different organizations. I think that I can learn from her hard work and determination. She never gave up, and she was not "stingy" with her earnings or her time; she gave back and did her part to make sure that she helped people coming after her along.
There are many resources, books and websites devoted to Ms. Walker. She has a website www.madamecjwalker.com that gives her complete biography.