Born Sarah Breedlove in Louisiana in 1867, Madam C. J. Walker was an activist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. In 1905, she developed hair care products to suit African-Americans’ needs as part of the “Walker System” of hair care. She trained thousands of women to work in beauty parlors and the market for her products expanded into several Caribbean countries. She even founded an association to teach other women how to start successful businesses of their own.
In 1913, Walker relocated to Harlem and became involved in causes that were important to black Americans. She donated thousands of dollars to organizations that served the black community, was a patron of black artists, provided scholarships to black students at schools across the South and was active in the anti-lynching movement. Walker once said “I got my start by giving myself a start!” and scholarships and awards for business are given out in Walker’s memory to women across the country every year who embody her spirit.