Get Started
National Women's History Project
A List of Women Achievers

Honor Roll Home


Back to Madame C.J. Walker

Madame C.J. Walker
By: Austin W.
Indiana, Grade 3

“My object is not simply to make money for myself, I love to use a part of what I make in trying to help others.”

Madame C. J. Walker was born in poverty in 1867 but died as the first female African American millionaire. Her journey
from the cotton fields of Louisiana to a successful cosmetics business is an amazing story. She shared her wealth with black schools, orphanages, and civil rights organizations. She inspired black women to pursue their dreams.
Born in Delta, Louisiana as Sarah Breedlove, she was the first member of her family to be born free. She had very little formal education. Why? Both of her parents died when she was only seven. She and her sister worked on the cotton fields and did white people’s laundry to support themselves. At age 14, she got married to get away from her cruel stepbrother. In 1885 her daughter Lelia was born. Less than three years later her husband died and she moved to St. Louis. She got married again and divorced several years later. In 1905 she moved to Denver, married her 3rd husband and changed her name to Madame C.J. Walker. She started her own cosmetics business and sold Madame Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower. During that time very few black women didn’t make more than $1.50 per day but Madame C. J. Walker paid her factory workers $15 per day. She soon became a millionaire. She felt it was important to donate money to organizations that helped black people. She died at age 51.
In 1985, the Madame C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company was sold and was converted into the Madame Walker Theatre Center in Indianapolis.
Madam C. J. Walker’s life is a story of courage and determination. With all of her achievements, she never forgot her roots. She felt that it was important to share her wealth with others that were less fortunate. Madam C. J. Walker taught me if you work hard and believe in yourself, your dreams can be achieved. In the words of words of Madam C. J. Walker, “Don’t sit down and wait for opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”

Back to Madame C.J. Walker