Question of the Day [Black History Month]: How did Madame CJ Walker become the first American woman to be a self-made millionaire?


Answer: She invented a line of African American hair products and promoted them by traveling around the country giving lecture-demonstrations and eventually established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories to manufacture cosmetics and train sales beauticians.

Questions:

  1. What characteristics do you think Madame CJ Walker had that made her such a successful entrepreneur?
  2. Why was it important that Madame CJ Walker not only invented an important product, but also committed time and energy to share it with people all over the country?
  3. She recognized a need and designed a product to solve that need. Where do you see a need in your community that can be solved by a new product or service?

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

 

Behind the numbers (Biography.com):

“Madame C.J. Walker invented a line of African American hair products after suffering from a scalp ailment that resulted in her own hair loss. She promoted her products by traveling around the country giving lecture-demonstrations and eventually established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories to manufacture cosmetics and train sales beauticians. 

Her business acumen led her to be one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire. She was also known for her philanthropic endeavors, including a donation toward the construction of an Indianapolis YMCA in 1913.

Also a civil rights activist, in 1917, Madame C.J. Walker was part of a delegation that traveled to the White House to petition President Woodrow Wilson to make lynching a federal crime.”

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