The History of Madam CJ Walker Research Paper Sample

Posted on October 4, 2023

Paper Instructions

Academic level – Undergrad 1-2
Type of paper – Research paper
Topic Title – The History of Madam CJ Walker

Need a 2-page essay on the history of Madam CJ Walker. Please cite all citations in APA format

Research Paper Sample

Madam C. J. Walker, previously known as Sarah Walker, became one of the wealthiest African-American women in her era, but her impact was long-lasting beyond her financial input. Understanding the role women had when only a few children of color were born into freedom is crucial because it displays how people moved from different social strata in such a turbulent era. Despite her difficult childhood and teenage years, Madam C. J. Walker started her hair care and cosmetics business, heavily invested her finances in charity, and was known for her activism and support of the civil rights movement.

Walker’s life revealed a difficult but gradual path toward financial independence and social awareness. She and her brother Solomon were the only children in a family to be born into freedom. Her parents, Owen and Minerva Breedlove, had an older daughter Louvenia and four sons, Alexander, James, Solomon, and Owen Jr. Robert W. Burney (Nnachi, 2023). She became orphaned early and had to move in with her older sister. At the age of 10, Walker became a domestic servant. She did not stay with her sister for long: because Walker’s brother-in-law mistreated her, she married Moses McWilliams, with whom she had one daughter, Lelia. After his death, Walker had another marriage before finally marrying Charles Joseph Walker, whose name she later chose for herself. Although the couple divorced, they remained in contact. Walker’s husband helped her with her business pursuits and advertisements. Before her impressive career as a businesswoman, Walker worked as a laundress and a commission agent. She died in 1919 from kidney failure and ongoing issues with hypertension.

Furthermore, Walker’s path as the first self-made female millionaire and one of the richest African Americans started from her brothers’ inspiration and her role as a commission agent. Walker reported having problems with her hair and skin due to hard work, poor living conditions, and a lack of awareness of the necessary hair and skin care products. After her brothers helped Walker understand how to care for her hair, Walker became interested in the subject. She worked for Annie Malone, who later stated that Walker stole her formula (Oatman-Stanford, 2015). Walker started to call herself Madam C. J. Walker, becoming an independent hairdresser and a designer of cosmetic creams. She expanded her business, eventually employing thousands of women in her hairdressing salons and as salespeople. Walker taught other women to groom their hair, offered multiple training opportunities for hair care professionals, and even created the National Beauty Culturists and Benevolent Association of Madam C. J. Walker Agents that held conferences about business (“Madam C. J. Walker,” 2020). Her business continuously developed, and it even expanded abroad after her death.

Lastly, the woman’s phenomenal development was also influenced by her activism and political advocacy. As Walker became more financially secure, she became more confident in raising topics related to racial equality and women’s rights. Walker supported black communities and purchased objects of art from aspiring African Americans. Aside from her public speeches, she also hosted an event in honor of Emmett Jay Scott, openly displaying her support for African Americans in politics and public affairs (Bundles, 2001). Walker was often quoted as stating that she desired financial freedom to help vulnerable groups.

Walker’s growth from an unknown daughter of formerly enslaved people to a self-made businesswoman was gradual yet impressive, allowing her to dedicate her life to improving the living of other women of color. Walker managed to support her family and help other prospective females grow a better understanding of beauty products for themselves and their businesses. Her assistance to the African-American communities in the U.S. had a long-lasting effect appreciated even today.


Madam C. J. Walker. (2020) Indiana Historical Society.

Nnachi, N. (2023). Madam C.J. Walker: Self-made millionaire. Lerner Publications.

Oatman-Stanford, H. (2015). The Sharecropper’s daughter who made black women proud of their hair. Collectors Weekly.

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