Madam C. J. Walker was a self made millionaire who was beloved within her community for her philanthropy, and respected as a first-rate business person. She was America’s first female self-made millionaire and one of the most successful African American business owners ever. Discover how she did it all in All About Madam C.J. Walker.
Born Sarah Breedlove, she was the first person born free in her family. She married Charles Joseph Walker and became known as Madam C. J. Walker, the name she would later use on her hair care products.
After talking with her brothers, who were barbers, and experiencing problems with hair loss, she developed a formula that healed scalp infections. This inspired her to start her own line of hair care products to do things like reduce dandruff, grow longer hair, smooth hair, or prevent baldness. Her company employed thousands of door-to-door saleswomen from all over the United States and the Caribbean.
She supported the African American community by making a significant contribution for a new YMCA building in Indianapolis, funding scholarships for the Tuskegee Institute and Daytona Normal Institute for Girls, and becoming a patron of the arts in the early years of the Harlem Renaissance.
Her hair care products are still produced today by Sephora and her story was the inspiration to the Netflix series “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” and the adult biography On Her Own Ground, both also written by Madam C.J. Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles.
About the Author
A’Lelia Bundles is a former network television executive and producer who enjoyed a thirty-year career with ABC News and NBC News. She is chairman of the board of the National Archives Foundations, a vice chairman of Columbia University’s board of trustees, a member of the advisory boards of the Indiana Historical Society’s publication committee and the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Madam C. J. Walker and lives in Washington, D. C.