Madam C.J. Walker
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Sarah Breedlove (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. Walker was considered the wealthiest African-American businesseswoman and wealthiest self-made woman in America at the time of her death in 1919.
Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of cosmetics and hair care products for black women through the business she founded, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Born in a village in Louisiana, she moved North to develop her business.
She became known also for her philanthropy and activism. She made financial donations to numerous organizations and became a patron of the arts. Villa Lewaro, Walker's lavish estate in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, served as a social gathering place for the African-American community.
Although she was eulogized as the first female self-made millionaire in the US, her estate was worth an estimated $600,000 upon her death. According to Walker's obituary in The New York Times, "she said herself two years ago [in 1917] that she was not yet a millionaire, but hoped to be some time".
Her name, Madam C. J. Walker, came as a result of her marriage to Charles Joseph Walker, who died in 1926.
Last Updated: January 10, 2020