As a cancer survivor, I really appreciate my hair. I certainly don’t take it for granted. Baldness brought on by Big Guns Chemo has a way of giving a person perspective. Amen? 🙂
Sarah Breedlove had that perspective. Her troubles with scalp disorders and intermittent baldness had nothing to do with cancer. But they had everything to do with her destiny as a world-changing, Christian business owner.
Life was never easy for Sarah. She was born in 1867 on a Louisiana cotton plantation. The fifth child of her parents, Owen and Minerva — recently-freed slaves, thanks to the recently-signed Emancipation Proclamation. Sarah was the first of their children to be born free. https://www.biography.com/people/madam-cj-walker-9522174
Orphaned at the age of seven, Sarah lived for a few years with an older sister and brother-in-law. Until, at age 14, she married to escape his mistreatment. She and her husband, Moses McWilliams, had one child three years later. Lelia was only two when her father died. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madam_C._J._Walker
Sarah and her daughter moved to St. Louis, where her brothers had established themselves as barbers. Determined to provide Lelia with an education, Sarah worked as a washerwoman earning $1.50/day… enough to send Lelia to the city’s public schools. She met her second husband there, Charles J. Walker — an advertising man who would later help promote her business. https://www.biography.com/people/madam-cj-walker-9522174
It has been said that “Necessity is the mother of invention.” For Sarah, the necessity was her scalp condition. Her invention? A line of specialized hair care treatments for African Americans.
Sarah traveled around the country with her husband, selling door-to-door, providing demonstrations and training sales beauticians called “Walker Agents.” Her innovative clubs and conventions for these Agents recognized not only successful sales, but also philanthropic and educational efforts among African Americans. https://www.biography.com/people/madam-cj-walker-9522174
The Madame CJ Walker Company became wildly successful. Sarah was one of the first American women to become what some label a “self-made” milionnaire. But when aspiring entrepreneurs asked for the secret to her “rags-to-riches” ascent, she pointed to “tenacity and perseverance, faith in herself and in God, quality products and ‘honest business dealings.'” https://www.biography.com/people/madam-cj-walker-9522174
When she died in 1919, at age 51, Sarah was the sole owner of her business. It was worth $1 million, and her personal fortune was estimated at between $600,000 and $700,000. https://www.biography.com/people/madam-cj-walker-9522174
Those numbers may not seem huge by today’s standards. But by calculating their buying power in 2018 dollars, a different picture emerges. The buying power of Sarah’s business was equivalent to just under $15,000,000 today. And the buying power of her personal wealth? Between $8.9 and $10.4 million! https://www.dollartimes.com/inflation/inflation.php?amount=1000000&year=1919
She used her money to advance causes near to her heart. In 1913, she made the largest donation by an African American toward the construction of an Indianapolis YMCA. She founded philanthropies to support educational scholarships and homes for the elderly, the NAACP and the National Conference on Lynching. Even traveling to the White House to petition President Woodrow Wilson to make lynching a federal crime. https://www.biography.com/people/madam-cj-walker-9522174
Pretty amazing… Amen?
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Diana Furr, a.k.a. Abba’s Girl
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