Black History Month: Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker is most known for making the first homemade black hair products for African American women. Her biography expressed that she was also the first black female to become a self-made millionaire. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 in Delta, Louisiana, to Owen and Minerva Breedlove whom where both former slaves.  After marrying her second husband Charles Joseph Walker, she later changed her name to Madam C. J. Walker.

After having bad experiences with various hair products that caused her to loose her hair, Walker began experimenting with different items that was a huge success with restoring her hair. She then started to market her formula to friends, family, and neighbors. Since there were not a lot of hair products for black men and women at that time, she educated both sexes on how to take proper care of their hair with her homemade products aka “The Walker System“. She became a door to door saleswoman promoting her very own products and soon after, her business took off.

Madam CJ Walker 2

By 1908, she started Lelia College which was a beauty school where she taught others whom she called “hair culturist”, the best ways and techniques to care for black hair. In 1910, she moved to Indianapolis where her headquarters and beauty school was located. After reaching much success, she finally ended up moving into a beautiful mansion called Villa Lewaroin in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. She passed away on May 25, 1919 and according to her personal biography, her business profited over a million dollars at the time of her death. Walker took her own problems that she had with her hair and once she found a solution that worked, she ended up benefited from it.

Bonus: Madam C.J. Walker never forgot her roots and she made sure to give away scholarships to black students as well as donating to the NAACP.