Madam C.J. Walker: The First Female Self-Made Millionaire In The US Who Was Born To Former Slaves

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Madam C.J. Walker: The First Female Self-Made Millionaire In The US Who Was Born To Former Slaves

A new Netflix series called 'Self-Made' is sharing the story of one woman's remarkable rise from poverty, as the child of slaves, to becoming the United States first self-made African-American female millionaire.


Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove in 1867, was born in Louisiana just 2 years after the end of slavery in the United States. Her parents had been slaves who had been freed after the civil war and who worked as small time farmers on a 'sharecrop'. Tragedy struck early in life though, when aged 7 she was made an orphan.


By 1887, aged 20, she became a single parent after the death of her first husband. Realising she could barely make ends meet, she travelled to St. Louis Missouri to stay with her brothers, all of whom were working as barbers. While working as a cook and cleaner, she earned $1.50 per day.


Despite long hardship, her life was soon to make a surprising turn for the better. C.J. began to suffer form a scalp condition, most likely due to her rough living conditions. When no store-bought solutions worked, she invented her own remedy. This remedy would not only cure her hair-condition but would make her a millionaire!


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Starting from a simple home bottling operation, she slowly but surely built her brand into a several-million dollar business. It was all due to the simple fact that her product was the best and did what others failed to do. She also set up a franchise of trained hair-specialists known as 'Walker Agents' to spread her product far and wide.


C.J. then used much of her wealth to advance African-American causes such as creating educational scholarships, helping the elderly and former slaves, and she donated heavily to the NAACP, one of the leading civil-rights organisations in the country.


Shortly before her death aged 51, she started building the Walker building in Indianapolis which has long served as a source of African-American cultural projects, and in 1998 she appeared on a US postage stamp. Upon her passing at such an early age, she held a fortune of over $1 million. In today's terms that wealth would be very approximately worth around 10 to 15 million US dollars.



The amazing story of C.J. and her rise from the lowliest of situations is testament to a wonderful never-say-die attitude. Her story is available on the Netflix streaming service in some countries.

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Thinking Humanity: Madam C.J. Walker: The First Female Self-Made Millionaire In The US Who Was Born To Former Slaves
Madam C.J. Walker: The First Female Self-Made Millionaire In The US Who Was Born To Former Slaves
A new Netflix series called 'Self-Made' is sharing the story of one woman's remarkable rise from poverty, as the child of slaves, to becoming the United States first self-made African-American female millionaire. Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove in 1867, was born in Louisiana just 2 years after the end of slavery in the United States. Her parents had been slaves who had been freed after the civil war and who worked as small time farmers on a 'sharecrop'.
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