Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker, starring Octavia Spencer, premiered on Netlfix on March 20, 2020. This fascinating TV series features an African-American orphan girl who built a large cosmetic empire by herself, and the first African-American woman to become a millionaire. Is this a fictional tale? Not at all, since this series is based on the real story of Sarah Breed, later known as Madam C.J. Walker. As you know, the Toombow Kids team loves to share inspiring stories with you and is happy to tell you about this woman who is a symbol of hope for orphans around the world !
Sarah was born on December 23, 1867 in Louisiana to former slave parents. When she was just 7 years old, her mother died, followed by her father three years later. Unlike her sister and four brothers, the girl was born a free black person as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation. After being forced to live with her abusive brother-in-law and work in the cotton fields, she got married and became pregnant. When her husband died, she moved to Missouri at age 16, when her daughter was 2 years old. After working for a while as a laundress, she was seduced by the hair care business and became a sales agent before deciding to create her own line of products! She was very ambitious to succeed. In the meantime, she found love again and took her new husband’s name: from then on, she was known as Mrs. C.J. Walker.
Working alone at first, selling door-to-door while teaching black women how to take care of their hair, she then developed a mail order business and hired employees. The craze began, and she gradually managed a huge workforce of 40,000 African-American employees thanks to her unshakeable faith in her project. Despite the fortune she amassed, she generously aided her community, orphanages, and schools.
Today, the flame of this legendary entrepreneur continues to shine in her descendants such as A’Lelia Perry Bundles, her great-great granddaughter. The latter, a journalist and author, has contributed to the international recognition of her ancestor by publishing her biography entitled On Her Own Ground in 2001, which was a great success. Eight years earlier, in 1993, the businesswoman was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. A prestigious distinction that places her for eternity alongside American citizens who have distinguished themselves in the arts, sciences, politics, business or sports, such as the novelist Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, and Mary Edwards Walker, the first American woman to receive a Medal of Honor. Regarding the TV series that paid tribute to her amazing life, the Los Angeles Times said that it was “not just a wonderful tribute to an unsung woman, but also a captivating and positive series that shines a light in these dark times. “
As you know, kids, some people can be very mean to orphans and dehumanize them by saying they are “lost causes.” This is entirely untrue. If you yourself have lost your parents, know that you can overcome this, follow your dreams and fight for the life you deserve, just like Madam C.J. Walker. For all her accomplishments, the Louisiana native is now considered a legendary businesswoman and a role model for young people!