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Black Inventors and Innovators - Madame CJ Walker

Updated on February 16, 2011


Madame CJ Walker was born December 23, 1867 in Delta Louisiana and died May 25, 1919 in New York, New York. Walker was one of six children born to former slaves who became sharecroppers.  Walker’s parents died when Sarah was very young and she ended up moving around. At one point Walker moved in with her sister and brother-in-law but her sister’s husband was very abusively so Walker ran away and married at the age of 14 and shortly after had a daughter.  A few years later Walker’s husband was murdered by a lynch mob and Walker moved Missouri with her daughter.  It was at this point that Walker would develop her hair care products.

Due to all the stress Walker was enduring throughout her life her hair started to fall out.  Walker tried several different products to stop her hair from falling out and to help it to grow but nothing worked.  It was during this time that Walker had a dream where a big black man came to her and told her what products she needed to mix together.  She sent for all the products, mixed them together and applied them to her scalp.  In a few weeks her hair was coming in faster than it was falling out.  She also tried the formula on some of her friends and found that it worked for them too.  There were no other hair care products for Blacks at the time so Walker decided to go into the business of selling hair products to Black women.

When Walker started her business she had $2.00 in her pocket.  Walker started by placing advertisements in Black newspapers throughout the United States and going door-to-door to sell the products; hair conditioners, facial creams, and hot combs.  The Madam CJ Walker Manufacturing Company grew quickly and in 1906 when Walker’s daughter graduated from college her daughter started to manage the company while Walker traveled to other countries to market the products. Walker felt that it was important to empower women and therefore tried to hire mostly women into the company. 

After nine years Walker went from a woman with $2.00 in her pocket to a woman with a net worth of over a million dollars.  Thanks to her dream and hair care products Walker was able to purchase a 34 room mansion located off the Hudson River in New York. 

Madam CJ Walker overcame loss and adversity throughout her life and was able to amass a fortune and to help other women empower themselves.  Walker is a true inspiration.


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    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you fastfreta!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 7 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Triplet Mom, and thank you Madam C. J. Walker!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you arandolph!

    • profile image

      arandolph 7 years ago

      I just wanted to inform you and your readers of this very important fact – Madame C.J. Walker’s historic company still exists today and has never stopped manufacturing all of the original hair oils! Please visit our website at to view and purchase the full product line. The website also contains valuable information about Raymond Randolph’s purchase of the original Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company in 1985 from the Walker Trustees in Indianapolis, Indiana and how his family continues to keep Madame Walker’s “true” legacy alive. Due to our ownership of Madame’s historic company and the historical documents and memorabilia of the company, the Randolph Family can provide the most detailed and historically sound information about Madame C.J. Walker and her company by calling toll free, 866-552-2838 or going to the contact us page of our website. 

      Angela Randolph

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Hello and Cheryl - I enjoyed learning about Madame CJ Walker, very inspirational!

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 7 years ago from Houston, TX

      Triplet Mom,

      Thanks for the inspiring and encouraging hub on Madame CJ Walker.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      A wonderful stoyr and so much to learn from it. Thank you for your detailed hub.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you earthbound!

    • earthbound1974 profile image

      earthbound1974 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      I agree with you. She's truly an inspiration.