Today in History – December 23, 1867 –
Marks the day of the birth of the first millionaires, Sarah Breedlove known to us as Madame CJ Walker.
Born 1867 in Delta, Louisiana, her parents Owen and Minera Breedlove were former slaves to “Robert W. Burney’s Madison Parish farm which was a battle-staging area during the Civil War for General Ulysses S. Grant and his Union troops”. Her parents died when she was 7 due to the epidemic known as ‘yellow fever; subsequently, she became an orphan. Walker was an entrepreneur and made her fortune through her self-made hair products. She developed a product to straighten African American women’s hair. She claimed that the invention of her hair product came to her in a dream. Although it was thought she did this to help African American women conform their hair to that of whites, she argued that she created the treatment in order to encourage good treatment and growth in African American women’s hair. She began selling her product door-door. In due time she sophisticated her marketing approach and by 1906 she and her husband Charles Joseph Walker toured the country promoting her hair products. She moved to a mail order operation and established a beauty training school. â€œIn 1910 they moved the central operations to Indianapolis, then the country’s largest manufacturing base, to utilize that city’s access to eight major railway systems. The first self-made millionaires, Walker succeeded despite being an orphan. Madame CJ Walker’s contributions in hair care established her as a prominent role model to woman, still, today, making her birth essential in today’s history.
For more information, see the Engineering Pathway’s resources on Madame CJ Walker inventor.