Orphaned at age 7, first black self-made richest female, C.J. Walker was born to freed slaves working as sharecroppers, became a wife at 14, widowed at 20 and died a millionaire.
Born to freed slaves working as sharecroppers, first black female millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker had odds stacked against her, becoming an orphaned at 7, marrying at 14 and widowed at 20.
When she was 7, Walker lost her parents and at 14, she got married to escape the abuse of a cruel brother in law.
However, by 20, she was widowed and moved to St. Louis, Missouri where her brothers worked as barbers.
She first earned her living by doing laundry before becoming a Poro sales agent.
Poro Company was Annie Turnbo Malone's beauty-products business which already had a product called the Wonderful Hair Grower.
Walker later developed her own Wonderful Hair Grower which marked her big entry into the hair-care business.
She moved from St. Louis to Denver, where she built her company and she was to then build a head office and factory in Indianapolis.
It is argued that she copied Malone and indeed Malone once warned customers to beware of imitations.
The debate is now largely irrelevant as both women became raging successes.
And the history books are large enough to celebrate both of them.
Yahoo Finance says if Walker had sold her business in 1919 when she died, it would have been worth between $1 million and $2 million which amounts to around $14.5 million in today's dollars.
The Guinness World Book of Records lists her as the first female self-made millionaire.
Walker was a black woman born to freed slaves who were still subjected to institutional oppression made a fortune against all odds.
Her contribution to African-American culture is not simply in inspiring entrepreneurship but in reclaiming a very political industry - hair-care.
Madam C.J. Walker was born in Delta Louisianna on the 23rd of December in 1867.
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