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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Historical Tidbit: Madame C.J. Walker

Sarah Breedlove (Source)
Did you know...that the first self-made female millionaire in America was a black woman?

It's true! Sarah Breedlove was born as the one of six children in December of 1867. She was the first in her family to be born free, after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. At age 14, she got married to escape the abuse of her brother-in-law, with whom she was living. Six years later, her husband died. She was twenty years old, with a 2-year-old daughter to care for. She moved to St. Louis, where three of her brothers lived, and got work as a washer woman, earning less than $1 a day. She was determined to earn enough money to get her daughter a formal education, though.

Like most people in her day, she expected hair loss due to poor diet and living conditions. She learned about hair and hygiene from her brothers, who all worked in barber shops. She sold hair car products on commission for Annie Turnbo Malone, a haircare enterpreneur, and soon after emerged as Madame C.J. Walker, "an independent hairdresser and retailer of cosmetic creams." (Source)

C.J. Walker's grave (Source)
Sarah remarried, had her stepdaughter run the mail order part of the business, while she and her husband traveled the country, expanding. Eventually she began training other women, especially African Americans, in the concepts of beauty products, sales, and business models. Her business expanded beyond the United States to Cuba, Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, and Haiti.

She eventually got involved in politics, gave massive amounts of money to charity, and upon her death was considered the wealthiest African American in the country. It is unclear whether she was actually worth more than a million dollars at the time of her death, but in by today's standards, she would have been many times over. (For more details on her amazing life, see this link.)

There is so much entitlement in the world today; a massive movement of people who believe that certain people, especially minorities, ought to be given absolutely everything. But Sarah Breedlove defies that model. She was born during Civil War times, and came up very humbly in the world, with little chance for education or wealth. Yet, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and became one of the wealthiest, most successful women of her day. The entitlement movement won't tell this story because it flies in the face of their most sacred dogma. Yet, Sarah Breedlove (a.k.a. Madame C.J. Walker) is a heroine of not only success and wealth, but education, women's empowerment, and the overall betterment of society. 

Now, most people who read my blog probably aren't members of this Entitlement Movement I speak of. (After all, we wouldn't be aspiring writers and authors if we didn't believe we have a chance to attain our dreams.) But, for the record, it's my belief that if more people were like Sarah Breedlove, our society would have vastly fewer problems than we are currently facing.

Remember, knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

What do you think of C.J. Walker? Have you ever heard her story before?

Citadels of Fire

In a world where danger hides in plain sight and no one aspires to more than what they were born to, Inga must find the courage to break the oppressive chains she’s been bound with since birth. 

As a maid in the infamous Kremlin, life in 16th-century Russia is bleak and treacherous. That is, until Taras arrives. Convinced that his mother’s death when he was a boy was no mere accident, he returned from England to discover what really happened. While there, he gains favor from the Tsar later known as Ivan the Terrible, the most brutal and notorious ruler ever to sit upon the throne of Russia. Ivan allows him to take a servant, and to save Inga from a brutal boyar intent on raping her, Taras requests Inga to stay in his chambers.

Up against the social confines of the time, the shadowy conspiracies that cloak their history, and the sexual politics of the Russian Imperial court, Inga and Taras must discover their past, plan for their future, and survive the brutality that permeates life within the four walls that tower over them all, or they may end up like so many citizens of ancient Russia: nothing but flesh and bone mortar for the stones of the Kremlin wall.


  1. Replies
    1. I agree, Adele! Had to post about this when I read her story. Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

  2. This is a wonderful story and deserves to be told.

    1. Agreed! I was shocked when I heard it that I'd never heard it before. :D