Madame C.J. Walker

First Female Self-Made Millionaire

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“I want the great masses of my people to take a greater pride in their personal appearance and to give their hair proper attention.” —Madam C.J. Walker


On December 23 1867 Sarah Breedlove was born near the city of Delta, Louisiana on a cotton plantation (below). She was the fifth child of Owen and Minerva Breedlove (below). In 1877 she was orphaned at the age of 7 and went lived with her sister and brother-in-law in Vicksburg, Mississippi. There she picked cotton till the age of 14. At the age of 14 she married to escape abuse, and poor working conditions.

Life Before Fame

After being married at age 14, to Moses McWilliams (below),Sarah had a baby by the name of A'Lelia (below). After Sarah's husband died two years later, Sarah and the baby went to seek out her brothers that lived in Saint Louis and that worked at a barber shop. Soon after she raised enough money to send her daughter to public school, after working as a washerwomen for $1.50 a day. Soon after arriving in Saint Louis Sarah met Charles J. Walker (below). They married soon after.

"Hair Care Millionaire"

Sarah Breedlove lost most of her hair in the 1890, due to a scalp condition. She did not settle, and accept her condition. Instead she worked to make a product that helped her condition. Sarah moved to Denver after being hired by "a successful, black, hair care product entrepreneur", named Annie Turnbo Malone (below). After, Breedlove began to promote her hair care product, with the help of her husband. Throughout 1907 her and her husband traveled through the south to promote her "Walker Method" of hair care. Her business grew exponentially.

Growing Company

Soon after promoting, a head quarters/factor/beauty school was made in Pittsburgh, in 1908. In need of expansion the business moved in 1910, to Indianapolis (below). From there, the company grew even larger, "the company not only manufactured cosmetics, but trained sales beauticians."


C.J. Walker had a large focus on philanthropy after her small business grew into a multi-million dollar business. Her practice of philanthropy stared when Walker created representative clubs. After this Walker moved to a new townhouse in Harlem, realizing that there was good opportunities for her business there. She founded many philanthropies during this time, most of which she chose that would help the lives of African-Americans.


Walker impacted society through her philanthropy to improve the lives of African-Americans; she was also a important role model for women and African-Americans through being the first African-American women to become a self-made millionaire. Walker also helped to establish cleanliness laws. She did this by first having rules in her factories that soon became widespread. In conclusion Madam C.J. Walker was a was a large inspiration for African-Americans, and women.
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Citations Editors. "Madam C.J. Walker Biography." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2016.

White, Claytee D. "Walker, A'Lelia (1885–1931) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed." Walker, A'Lelia (1885–1931) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed., 2001. Web. 06 Jan. 2016.

"Black Women Entrepreneurs." Oxford AASC: Photo Essay. Oxford University Press, 2012. Web. 06 Jan. 2016.

David. "Hair History." Madam CJ Walker. New York Times, 2 June 2008. Web. 06 Jan. 2016.

Bournazian, Vivian. "Madam C.J. Walker, 1867-1919: She Developed Hair-Care Products for Black Women." Biography. Voice of America, n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2016.