How Madam C. J. Walker Paved the Way for Black Businesses

Madam C. J. Walker circa 1913 (Madam Walker Family Archives: A’Lelia Bundles)

If you are a Black woman and find yourself at one of the big box beauty stores staring at rows of hair products for your type of hair, chances are you can thank Madam C.J. Walker for her work more than a century ago.

Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 on a plantation in Delta, Louisiana. Her parents, Owen and Minerva Anderson Beedlove were former slaves. She was the fifth of six children, but the first one born into freedom.

Both of her parents were dead by the time she was 7 years old. When she was 14 she married her first husband, Moses McWilliams, in 1882. The two had one daughter named A’Lelia.

McWilliams died in 1887.

Breedlove then moved to St. Louis with her young daughter and married John Davis in 1894. That marriage lasted until 1903 when she left Davis and moved to Denver where she met and married her third husband, Charles J. Walker.

He worked in advertising and helped her promote her hair care business.

It’s haircare that made Madam C.J. Walker so well known. She invented what was known as the Wonderful Hair Grower. An ointment to basically help heal scalp ailments that plagued many African American women.

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SOURCE: ClickOrlando, Ginger Gadsden and Brooke Savage

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