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Reflections in Black: Madam C.J. Walker

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History

Born in December of 1867 in Delta, La., Sarah Breedlove knew adversity. Her parents, formerly enslaved persons, died when she was seven years old. She eventually moved to Denver and began working for Annie Turnbow Malone, selling products for the Turnbow company. When she decided to start her own hair care company called Wonderful Hair Grower, she took the professional name Madam C.J. Walker. Walker created a chain of beauty salons in major U.S. cities, South America and the Carribbean. She also established a beauty school in Pittsburgh, Pa., and by 1915, Walker was the wealthiest Black woman in the nation. She turned her power in business into activism, encouraging Black Americans to purchase bonds to support American efforts in World War I, and she donated to organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Association of Colored Women.

Timothy Dennis is KUAF's strategic technical planner and producer for Ozarks at Large.
Reflections in Black is a weekly segment on Ozarks at Large, hosted by Raven Cook. Reflections in Black is dedicated to exploring the legacy of Black Americans, both in the United States and around the globe, by providing resources for understanding and hope for all people.
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