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Salute To Iconic Women: Madam CJ Walker

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Mar. 19 2013, Published 7:47 p.m. ET

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“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”–Madam CJ Walker

Occupation: Entrepreneur

How she made her mark: Madam CJ Walker was the first American to be a self-made millionaire. After experiencing extreme hair loss herself, Walker started perfecting her own hair formulas.  When she discovered successful formulas, she then decided to start her own business. In 1905 she began to promote a hair product specifically for African-American hair. She and her husband would travel around giving lecture demonstrations to get the word out about their new product. These demonstrations included the “Walker Method,” which showcased her own formula for brushing, hot combs, and pomade. She quickly became an inspiration for many black women. After realizing the power of her success and wealth, she continued to promote her business which in turn empowered other women in their businesses. She was a noted philanthropist and made it her goal to use her wealth to strive for political and social rights for African-Americans and for women.

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