Day 12 Black History Month: Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker was born on a cotton plantation in Louisiana and became wealthy after inventing a line of African-American hair care products. She established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories and was also known for her philanthropy.

  • Madam C.J Walker’s real name was Sarah Breedlove.
  • She was born on a cotton plantation, on 12/23/1867 in Delta Louisiana.
  • Madam C.J Walker was an inventor, entrepreneur and first female African American millionaire.
  • Her parents names were Owen and Minerva.
  • Owen and Minerva were once slaves. They had 6 children.
  • Sarah was the first one of their children not born into slavery.
  • Owen and Minerva had both passed away by the time Sarah was 7 years old.
  • Sarah went to live with her sister after the death of her parents and moved to Mississippi.
  • At the age of 14 Sarah married Moses McWilliams.  They had a daughter named A’Lelia.
  • Moses died when A’Lelia was only two years old.
  • Sarah and A’Lelia moved to St. Louis.
  •  Sarah found a job in St. Louis and made $1.50 a day.
  • In St. Louis, she met her second husband Charles J. Walker.
  • Most Americans during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s did not have  indoor plumbing, central heating or electricity.
  • As a result people did not bath or wash their hair as often as we do now.  As a result many people suffered scalp disease causing hair loss.
  • Sarah herself was losing her hair.  She experimented with home remedies to create a healthier scalp.  She developed Vegetable Shampoo, Wonderful Hair Grower, Vanishing Cream and other beauty products for black women.
  • Her husband who was in advertising, thought it would help her business to go by a more flashy name.  So Sarah started calling herself Madame C.J Walker.
  • In 1905 she traveled around the country talking to women about her products and doing demonstrations.  Women loved the products.
  • She established Madame C. J Walker Laboratories to manufacture her beauty products. Walker’s beauty products were sold to many women across the country.
  • Madam C.J Walker used her success to help other African-Americans.  She founded scholarships for black students, donated money to different African-American institutions.  Walker also lobbied politicians for civil rights.
  • Walker wanted African-American women to get ahead and have careers where they can make a decent living.  She opened a school called the Walker College of Hair Culture .  There women were trained to style hair, sell Walker’s products and even given the opportunity to open their own beauty salons. “I am not satisfied in making money for myself,” she told a 1914 convention of the National Negro Business League. “I endeavor to provide employment for hundreds of the women of my race.”
  • Madam C.J Walker spent her life empowering African-American Women.  She died on May 25, 1919.  Her daughter, A’Lelia Walker, became the president of the C.J Walker Manufacturing Company.

{Credit:National Black Guide.com}

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