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Madame C.J. Walker (Sarah Breedlove)

(1867–1919) Madame C. J. Walker was her business name. Her given name was Sarah Breedlove. She was the first African American Women millionaire. Early in the 20th century, she demonstrated political equality because she showed that African-American women could start their own business and be successful. She created her own line of hair care products and founded a school for training women in her hair care products. She was later a political activist, and donated funds to African American Schools.

Ultimately, Madame C. J. employed 40,000 African American women and men in the US, Central America, and the Caribbean. She also founded the National Negro Cosmetics Manufacturers Association in 1917. In 1918 she was several times the keynote speaker at fundraisers for the National Association of Colored People.

Madame C.J.'s business grew rapidly, with sales exceeding $500,000 in the final year of her life. As her wealth increased, so did her philanthropic and political outreach. She contributed to the YMCA, covered tuition for six African American students at Tuskegee Institute, and became active in the anti-lynching movement, donating $5,000 to the NAACP’s efforts. Just prior to dying of kidney failure, Sarah Breedlove/Madame C. J. revised her will, bequeathing two-thirds of future net profits to charity, as well as thousands of dollars to various individuals and schools.


Woodlawn Cemetery

Butternut, Section 141 South, S

4199 Webster Avenue, Bronx, NY 10470

Bronx County

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