"The First Black Millionaire" Madam CJ Walker
For many black and brown people around the world, the influence of THE, Madam CJ Walker is as far as the eye can see. The Madam, born Sarah Breedlove in Delta Louisiana on December 23, 1867 was said to have a dream. A vision if you will, for a line of revolutionary hair-care products designed specifically for the black and brown woman. As the first self made female millionaire in the country, she is quoted to have started with "two dollars and a dream". Her inventions through the Madam CJ Walker Manufacturing Company fueled and inspired by her own experiences with hair loss led to the "Walker System". Which included but wasn't limited too, her "wonderful hair grower", Vegetable Shampoo & "Glossine" pressing oil.
The Madam was an inspiration for millions of Afro-Americans for well over one hundred years. As the first black millionaire, Madam Walker was also the first black philanthropist. Donating thousands of dollars to causes benefiting the disenfranchised. The Madam started schools such as the "Lelia College" in Pittsburgh in 1908 for young black women, provided a safe space for her predominately women led workforce, & organized and trained women in the field of business, and sales. Madam Walker was a pioneer and vanguard of afro-entrepreneurship. Leading the way by opening doors for women around the world.
In her final years, The Madam constructed her home. Famously known as "Villa Lewaro" which was a true masterpiece. Designed in 1917 by Afro-American Architect Vertner Woodson Tandy Sr. Located in Irvington NY, she was neighbors to Thomas Edison and the Rockefeller family. As a black woman in America, Madam Walker's residence was a shining symbol of achievement for Black people.
On May 25, 1919 Madam CJ Walker transitioned from this lifetime, leaving behind a legacy of success and impact. Shortly after her passing, the Walker building was erected in Indianapolis. Constructed to serve as a "Black Mall" of sorts including a barber shop and beauty salon, a tailor, shoe shine parlor, full grocery store, grand ballroom, doctor, dentists, drug store, and even a fine dining restaurant and movie theater. While living The Madam sued a segregated theater in Indiana for their discriminatory practices. I can imagine that this would have made her proud. Showing black movies produced by black people with full black cast. For many Afro-Americans this was their first time seeing themselves on the big screen.
After her passing "Villa Lewaro" served as a cultural hub for black art during what would soon be known as the "Harlem Renaissance". Madam Walker's only daughter A'lelia Walker was a lover of art and music and shared her love with all who we're invited to listen through her contribution to history "The Dark Tower" a landmark in Harlem where she spent most of her days before having to close due to a decline in finances. Today The "Villa Lewaro" is owned by the New Voices foundation. An organization that provides grants, coaching, and learning opportunities founded by Richelieu Dennis, who is also the founder of Shea Moisture. @newvoicesfamily www.newvoicesfund.com . To be used as a learning center to foster entrepreneurship for present and future generations.