This Wednesday, February 24 the Indiana State Library shares a very special Black History Month event in Indianapolis as they tell all about Madame C.J. Walker. From 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm in the History Reference Room of the Indiana State Library, learn about the life and times of Indianapolis’ most notable African American woman in Madame C.J. Walker: The Wonderful Hair Grower. She continues to inspire generations of young girls even today, as the Madame Walker Theatre (named in her honor) presents accessible Indianapolis arts events all year. Head to this FREE Indianapolis education event to learn about this incredible entrepreneur.
Madame C.J. Walker was born in Delta, Louisiana on December 23, 1867 as Sarah Breelove. As the first member of her family to be born free, Breedlove’s parents and ancestors had only known heartache and hard work as slaves in the deep South. At only fourteen she was married, and then widowed at only twenty years old. With her daughter in tow, she moved to St. Louis, Missouri to be close to her brothers. Though she worked as a lowly laundress, earning only a dollar and a half per day, Breedlove was able to save enough to send her daughter to school.
By 1905, Breedlove secured a job working for Annie Malone, an African American female entrepreneur who manufactured hair care products. Breedlove eventually developed her own “Wonderful Hair Grower,” which she claims came to her in a dream. She remarried in 1906 to Charles Joseph Walker, a St. Louis newspaperman. It was then that she changed her name to become the infamous Madame C.J. Walker. She founded her own manufacturing company, named after herself, and began to sell products.
In 1910, she divorced Walker and moved her company to the Circle City. A short seven years later, Madame C. J. Walker had the largest (and most successful) business owned by and African American (man or woman!). Of her success Walker has said, “I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair good and preparations. . . I have built my own factory on my own ground.”
Walker was emphatic about giving opportunities to other African American women. Her agents worked on commission and could earn upwards of $15.00 per day, in an era where even unskilled white laborers were making only $11.00 per day. In addition, she was an incredible philanthropist. She constantly donated to charities and educational institutions like the NAACP, the Tuskegee Institute and Bethune Cookman College.
Madame C.J. Walker led an unmatchable life for her time. One of the most incredible success stories of the “American Dream,” all Walker needed was freedom to achieve. She is an important part of Indianapolis history. For additional information about Madame C.J. Walker’s landmark life, head to the FREE Indianapolis event, Madame C.J. Walker: The Wonderful Hair Grower, at the Indiana State Library.
After the education event, grab lunch at any of these great Indianapolis restaurants in Indianapolis downtown. Stay tuned to Indianapolis News, Events and Information on Fun City Finder.com for all the latest on fun things to do in Indianapolis. We cover everything from Indianapolis arts to Indianapolis sports and more.
Madame C.J. Walker: The Wonderful Hair Grower
Wednesday, February 24 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Indiana State Library
315 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202