March 16, 2011
Madam C.J Walker
Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove, on December 23, 1867 in Delta, Louisiana to Owen and Minerva Breedlove. She was one of six children. Madam C. J. Walker moved in with her older sister, and brother-in-law, Willie Powell. She married Moses McWilliams when she was 14 years old to get a home of her own to escape Powell's abuse. Three years later her daughter, Lelia McWilliams was born. Like many women of her era, Madam experienced hair loss. Because most Americans lacked indoor plumbing, central heating and electricity, they bathed and washed their hair infrequently. The result was scalp disease. Madam C.J Walker experimented with home remedies and products already on the market until she finally developed her own shampoo and an ointment that contained sulfur to make her scalp healthier for hair growth. Madam C. J. Walker was selling her products throughout the United States. Madam Walker and her husband traveled throughout the southern and eastern states. They settled in Pittsburgh in 1908 and opened Lelia College to train "hair culturists." In 1910 Walker moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where she established her headquarters and built a factory. She began to teach and train other black women in order to help them build their own businesses. She also gave other lectures on political, economic and social issues at conventions sponsored by powerful black institutions. Madam Walker was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in 1992, the National Women's Hall of Fame. Madam C.J. Walker died at Villa Lewaro on Sunday, May 25, 1919 from complications of hypertension. She was 51. At her death she was considered to be the wealthiest African-American woman in America and known to be the first self-made female American millionaire. Her daughter, A'Lelia Walker, became the president of the C.J Walker Manufacturing Company.