Born Sarah Breedlove Walker on December 23, 1867, Madam C.J. Walker became the first African-American female millionaire in America. Not only did she financially stabilize herself with her hair straightening treatment and salon system, which helped other African-Americans to achieve greatness, but she also was instrumental in working to end lynching and pushing for communal support on women’s rights.

Like women of her time, Walker experiences a large amount of hair loss. Hair care was hard, due to the fact that most Americans lacked indoor plumbing, central heating, and didn’t possess the time to bath and wash their hair. Several women began to develop scalp diseases. Sarah experimented with products in her home and items in the market and developed a shampoo and ointment with sulfur that helped stimulate the scalp and made it healthier for hair growth. She traveled with her husband across the south and east coast to sell her products door-to-door. In 1908, they settled in Pittsburgh and opened Lelia College, an institute ran by her daughter A’Lelia Walker,where they trained individuals in hair care and taught them about entrepreneurship. In 1910, Walker moved to Indianapolis and established her headquarters and factory there.




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  • Angela Randolph

    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! Anyone who visits our website at http://www.madamewalker.net can 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 Due to our ownership of Madame’s historic company and the historical documents and memorabilia of the company, the Randolph Family can provide the most detailed and historically sound information about Madame C.J. Walker and her company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

  • Dear Ms. Membis:
    Thanks very much for featuring Madam C. J. Walker in today’s Women’s History Month profile. As Walker’s great-great-granddaughter and biographer–and as president of the Madam Walker Family Archives–I’m always thrilled and grateful when others are inspired by her story and her role as a philanthropist, arts patron and anti-lynching activist. Today our family proudly keeps her legacy alive through the Walker Theatre Center, a restored 1927 National Historic Landmark in Indianapolis; through our books and speeches and through the Madam Walker/A’Lelia Walker Family Archives, the largest private collection of inherited and acquired Walker photographs, business documents, letters and other personal Walker artifacts.
    A’Lelia Bundles
    Author, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker (A New York Times Notable Book)