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Born Sarah Breedlove in Delta. Louisiana, she was the first member of her family to be born free to parents who had been slaves.  Her mother preached to little Sarah to learn to read, count and write and “mind nobody's business but your own.”  Malaria took both her parents leaving Sarah and her sister Louvenia to fend for themselves.  They took a ferry across the Mississippi to Vicksburg.  There they help the washerwomen wash, fold and iron clothes.  At 14 she married a man named Moses McWilliams.  At age nineteen she was widowed and expecting a baby girl.  She moved to St. Louis to join her brothers.

As a result of her hair falling out she started mixing several ingredients together to put on her hair to make it grow.  After about two months her hair began to grow.  She started to sell the hair growing products to her neighbors and friends.  She went door to door to pitch her new product.  As time went on women began to buy the product and word of mouth spread the news. She had to hire women to help her.  She moved to Denver to get a bigger population and newer clientele base.  Annie Malone was already selling a hair product in St Louis similar to  Sarah's.

madamcj.jpgIn Denver she reconnected with an old friend Charles Joseph Walker, everyone called him C.J.  They got married and instead of calling herself  Mrs. Charles Joseph Walker she called herself Madam C.J. Walker, Madam just sounded very proper and important.  The name stuck.  She began placing ads in the paper, taking in mail orders and building her own manufacturing company.  She took pictures of herself with her long hair and placed them on all of her products.  Business was booming!!  By now her daughter Lelia  was grown and had graduated from college.  She was tall, beautiful and knew how to conduct business and makes speeches on behalf of the company.  Shed moved her company from Denver to Indianapolis.  By 1917 she had one of the largest business in the United States owned by an African American.  Her  estimated worth at this time was a million dollars, placing her as one of the first Black female to achieve this status.

She was known for her generous donations to colleges, churches, civic organizations, YMCA's and orphan homes.  Some of the recipient organizations were:  NAACP, the Tuskegee Institute, Bethune-Cookman College and the anti-lynching campaign. Madam C.J. built a mansion called “Villa Lewaro” built in the wealthy New York suburb of Irvington on the Hudson, near the estates of John D. Rockefeller and Jay Gould.  The mansion was built for about 350,000.  It was designed by the only black registered architect in New York at the time in 1915, Vertner Tandy.  Walker spent several years enjoying her house.

Walker died on may 25, 1919, at the age of 51, at her estate Villa Lewaro.  She was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

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