Madam C. J. Walker T-Shirt
- National Archives Store Exclusive
- 100% cotton
- Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not iron on decoration
An Archives Store exclusive, our T-shirt celebrates the achievements of Madam C. J. Walker. Inspired by elements from her life and work, our Madam Walker items pay homage to her extraordinary accomplishments. Born Sarah Breedlove, she was a daughter of enslaved people, who reimagined her life, and through drive and determination, became the first Black woman millionaire through her line of hair care products.
The daughter of slaves, Madam C. J. Walker (1867-1919) was orphaned at seven, married at 14, and a widow with a baby at 20. She spent the better part of the next two decades laboring as a washerwoman for $1.50 a week. Then—with her discovery of a revolutionary hair-care formula for black women—everything changed.
By the time that she was 40, Madam Walker was making as much money as a white corporate executive, thanks to her popular hair-care products for black women and her brilliance at marketing them. She created a workforce of sales agents that gave African American women job options other than being washerwomen or domestics. As her prominence and wealth increased, she became a generous benefactor of black educational institutions and such a staunch supporter of the anti-lynching movement that the State Department labeled her a "race agitator" and denied her a passport in 1919.