Strong Rooted Volume I: Issue 3- Madame CJ Walker May 11, 2017 (Republished)

We must know where we come from in order to get to where we want to go. Never forget your roots.

You may know her as Madame CJ Walker and one of the first Black woman millionaires.  Rightfully so, because that is who she is, Sarah Breedlove was also a daughter, the firstborn free of her siblings. Sarah lived with her sister in Mississippi, where she picked cotton instead of going to school. Sarah only had one child, a daughter A’leia whom she spoiled and adored. An entrepreneur, making millions of dollars from products that she created because of an ailment that caused her to lose most of her hair.  Walker was not just an average woman, she had a calling on her life to helping other women, and that is what she did.

Knowing how difficult it is right now to start a business and to be successful, we have to take into consideration all of the challenges that she must have faced. Born in Louisiana, Walker worked as a cotton picker, washerwoman, and salesperson before starting her own company, where she trained other women on her products and how to sell them.  Many people credit Walker with inventing the straightening comb, but Black women had been straightening their hair before that by heating forks and combing them through their hair.

Madame CJ Walker’s goal was to help Black women beautify themselves, which was an extraordinary thing to do for women of color who were often referred to as ugly.  Currently, we live in a world that accuses Black women of wanting to be like other races of women when they straighten their hair or put on make-up, but in reality, we all improve on what we have.  We enhance our education, job, living arrangements, and anything else that we have the power to control.  There is nothing wrong with that.  We can now watch an adaptation of Madame CJ Walker’s life in a mini-series streaming on Netflix called Self Made

It’s in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

The need for my care.

’Cause I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me

–Maya Angelou

Reference: Angelou, Maya. Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women. New York : Random House, 1994.

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