If it is one thing that is a known fact, it is that black people are powerful. Especially black women. We are F*****g powerful. And in a time when we are starting to become amplified (a time long overdue) it is time to start reminding society of how powerful we black women are.
Many of you may know the story of Madam C.J. Walker, and many of you also won’t. So, there is no better time than now to tell you about the first female self-made millionaire.
Madam C.J Walker, born Sarah Breedlove was an American entrepreneur, philanthropist and political and social activist. She made a fortune through developing a marketing line of cosmetics and hair care products for black women. In other words, she was a bad ass, inspirational business woman. In a world and time where women, especially black women were massively undervalued, she was determined to create an empire in order to provide a formal education for her daughter, as well as help her community, fund scholarships and donate to charities.
One of five children, she was born into hardship. Orphaned at six and married at fourteen, she had her daughter A’leila, and became a widow at twenty. When A’leila was two, they uprooted to St Louis, where Sarah balanced her work and life as a laundress with study and looking after her daughter.
After suffering from a scalp disorder, Walker was inspired to create haircare products for black women, thus coming up with a treatment that would change the black hair care industry.
In 1908, after working for Annie Malone, Sarah opened up a beauty school and factory in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and named it after her daughter. After marrying Charles Walker, she officially became known as Madam C.J. Walker and marketed herself as an independent hairdresser and retailer of cosmetic creams. She sold products door to door, and taught other black women how to groom and style their hair. Not only was she interested in developing her own skills and knowledge, but she wanted to help the community of women around her as well.
Over the years, Walker’s success rose, where eventually she opened headquarters for the Madam C.J Walker company in Indianapolis in 1910.
As well as her talent and entrepreneurism, Walker’s reputation was matched with her philanthropy. She encouraged her employees to give back to their communities, and in turn rewarded them with bonuses. And at a time when jobs were fairly limited for black women, she made sure she promoted female talent.
Donating generously to black charities, educational causes and funding scholarships; she made a way where it seemed like there wasn’t and stamped her name in black history.
Madam C.J. Walker was a revolutionary, and proved that black people deserve every ounce of respect and high positioning in society.