Meet the first African American woman millionaire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Meet the first African American woman millionaire

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By Ryan Houston - bio | email

ALBANY,  GA (WALB)- Madam C. J. Walker was a philanthropist and a successful entrepreneur. She is credited with making curly unmanageable hair turn into strands of silk.

Walker was the first African American woman to become a millionaire. She went from working in washtubs, to being a cook, and finally CEO of her own company.

Walker's greatest invention came from her losing her hair. When you see beautiful, smooth, sexy hair, you can thank Madam CJ Walker. "That's something that was never done by other women in her time," said Big Cuts Barber and Beauty Salon Stylists Monica Wallace. 

"She was very much ahead of her time," said Chairmen of Cosmetology at Albany Technical College Mr. R. Hawkins. 

Walker invented several products back in the early 1900's to help hair grow and make it more beautiful. "Because of what she did women can walk into corporate or business offices and feel great about how they look," said Wallace.

"She started out working with ethnic hair to smooth it with her pressing oils. Madam Walker transformed the way we view African American hair today," said Hawkins. 

Mr. Hawkins and Ms. Wallace both work in the hair world that is still being influenced by Walker 100 years later. "She was a pioneer in her day. There are so many different things we can do to hair through technology that'll help change the texture of hair," said Hawkins. 

"Things change, but more than anything they stay the same. The basics of a relaxer is the process that smoothes the hair and makes it more manageable," said Wallace. 

Walker managed to turn hair care products into a million dollar industry. "In her era, their weren't very many black business women. She was a pioneer because she taught pressing and curling," said Hawkins. 

"It makes me feel like the sky is the limit. If I truly believe that, 100 years from now who knows what people will be saying about Monica," said Wallace.  

Madam Walker is a perfect example of how we can change the world and become successful with hard work. She was married twice, and her parents died when she was seven. Madam Walker's story is a lot more complex than that.

Recent entertainment reports say Queen Latifah may play her in movie about the Life and Times of Madam Walker.

Madam CJ Walker died at the Age of 52 in 1919. Click Madam Walker for more information about how she contributed to society.

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