The Big Idea: 7 Groundbreaking Black Female Inventors

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Madame C J Walker

Undoubtedly the most famous inventor on the list, Madame C.J. Walker was also the first black female self-made millionaire.  Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867, Madame Walker suffered from a scalp condition that caused hair loss. As an adult, she experimented with several types of homemade remedies developed by Annie Malone, another black female entrepreneur.  However, Walker soon conducted independent experiments and developed her own hair care system.  After marrying Charles Walker in 1905, she began selling Madame Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower. This led to the development of the Walker System, which included healthier alternatives for black women who wanted to straighten their hair, and it also included other products designed to condition black hair and skin. She also set up schools, where she provided employment for over 3,000 people, and trained them as licensed Walker Agents.

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