Madam C. J. Walker, America's First Female Self-Made Millionaire

Madam C. J. Walker, America's First Female Self-Made Millionaire

Sarah Breedlove was born in 1867 to two sharecroppers, on the same Louisiana plantation where they had been enslaved since before the Civil War. By age seven, Breedlove was an orphan. However, this young girl would grow up to become Madam C. J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. Not only did Walker start her empire after a childhood rife with loss, discrimination, and abuse, she did it all as a single mother.

In the 1890s, Walker began to experience hair loss and looked hard for a solution. She experimented with home remedies and store-bought products, and consulted her brothers who worked in a barber shop. She eventually developed Madam Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower, a scalp conditioning and healing formula that she began peddling around the country. From there, her business continued to grow, as the word of Walker's product spread among African-American woman. "There is no royal flower-strewn path to success," Walker reportedly once said. "And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard." Learn more about this inspiring woman and others in the videos below.

Meet The First Self-Made Female Millionaire

Madam C. J. Walker's story is a true rags-to-riches tale.

04:38

Dr. Mae Jemison, The First African-American Woman In Space

Dr. Jemison achieved another important first in the U.S.'s history.

Awesome Inventions By African-Americans

Gerard Lawson developed the very first video-game console, the Fairchild Channel F, which was released a year before the first Atari console.

03:41

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    In the 1960s, James West invented the electret microphone, which revolutionized everything from hearing aids to rock 'n roll. (0:33)

  • 2

    1/3 of all of the patentable inventions inside IBM's original personal computer are still held by Mark Dean. (1:07)

  • 3

    Gerard Lawson developed the very first video-game console, the Fairchild Channel F, which was released a year before the first Atari console. (2:01)

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African-American Studies

Business

Pioneering Women

Lightning

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