A rags to riches saga like no other, full of challenges and triumphs, the Madame C.J. Walker’s story is an inspiration. Facing poverty and tragedy from a very young age, Sarah Breedlove beats the odds and becomes the first woman in America to be a self-made millionaire. Storyteller Deborah Asante guides our exploration of the girl, the wife, the mother, the mogul, all parts of the woman known as Madam Walker.
Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919) was lauded as “the first black woman millionaire in America” for her successful line of hair care products. Born Sarah Breedlove in Louisiana, she was widowed by age 20 and took work as a laundress. After seeking treatment for hair loss, she developed “The Walker System” and sold her homemade products directly to black women. Talented in the art of self-promotion, she built a booming national enterprise. In 1910, she moved her headquarters to Indianapolis, where the company eventually claimed to have trained 20,000 workers, mostly door-to-door saleswomen. Madam Walker also funded scholarships for women and donated large sums to the NAACP, the black YMCA and dozens of other charities.
Sarah the Dream Builder: A Story Tracing the Rise of Madame CJ Walker told by Deborah Asante is part of the Sharing Hoosier History through Stories series sponsored by the Indiana Historical Society and Storytelling Arts of Indiana, Inc.