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

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Feb 22, 2021
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Question of the Day, Entrepreneurship

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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About the Author

Mason Butts

After graduating from UCLA with a Master's in Education, Mason spent 5 years as a science educator in a South Los Angeles public high school. He is committed to supporting the holistic growth of all students and empowering them to live a life of relational, academic, and financial success. Now settled in the Bay Area, Mason enjoys facilitating professional developments and partnering with educators as they prepare students for a bright financial future. When Mason is not building curriculum or planning a training, he can be found cycling, trying new foods, and exploring the outdoors.