Walker, the first black millionairess in America, are entrepreneurs born or made essay the world’s first hair-straightening formula. The African Americans – Many Rivers to Cross – with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. So many black people still get their hair straightened that it’s a wonder we don’t have a national holiday for Madame C.
Walker, who invented the process for straightening kinky hair, rather than for Dr. Walker usually makes an appearance. Only one is factual, sort of, but the amazing story behind it and how Madam Walker used that accomplishment to help others as a job creator and philanthropist might be jarring — and surprisingly empowering — even to the skeptics. I know it was for me in revisiting her life for this column.
Jim Crow era — to the most successful black women on the stage today. On December 23, 1867, Sarah Breedlove was born to two former slaves on a plantation in Delta, La. Juneteenth was celebrated one state over in Texas. While the rest of her siblings had been born on the other side of emancipation, Sarah was free. But by 7, she was an orphan toiling in those same cotton fields. Now that Reconstruction, too, was dead in the South, Sarah moved north to St.
50 a day as a laundress and cook, Sarah struggled to send Lelia to school — and did — while joining the A. National Association of Colored Women. In 1894, Sarah tried marrying again, but her second husband, John Davis, was less than reliable, and he was unfaithful. At 35, her life remained anything but certain. What are you going to do when you grow old and your back gets stiff? Who is going to take care of your little girl?
Adding to Sarah’s woes was the fact that she was losing her hair. During the early 1900s, when most Americans lacked indoor plumbing and electricity, bathing was a luxury. As a result, Sarah and many other women were going bald because they washed their hair so infrequently, leaving it vulnerable to environmental hazards such as pollution, bacteria and lice. In the lead-up to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Illinois native with a background in chemistry who’d relocated her hair-straightening business to St.