Madame C. J. Walker: Breaking New Ground

This daughter of slaves built a haircare empire and created a model for financial empowerment

benefactors, Walker protested Jim Crow laws barring blacks from public facilities and fought for anti-lynching legislation. Her greatest service, however, may have been furnishing black women with a role model at a time when they were locked out from American society. Addressing the National Business League, a black trade association, in 1913, Walker said: “I have made it possible for many colored women to abandon the washtub for a more pleasant and profitable occupation. … Girls and women of our race must not be afraid to take hold of business endeavor[s].”

Her philosophy still rings true today

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