1998 32¢ Madam C.J. Walker
Issue Date: January 22, 1998
City: Indianapolis, IN
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Lithographed
Color: Sepia and black
The twenty-first stamp in the Black Heritage series honors the success and generosity of a self-made businesswoman from the beginning of the 20th century. Madam C.J. Walker is recognized for overcoming social and economic barriers. She is also generally known as the first black female millionaire.
Born in 1867, Sarah Breedlove was the daughter of Louisiana sharecroppers. She was orphaned at age six, married at fourteen, and widowed, with a two-year-old daughter, at age twenty. She worked in the South – in cotton fields and kitchens, and then for nearly two decades as a laundress in St. Louis. In 1905 she discovered a homemade hair treatment method for black women.
Sarah married journalist Charles J. Walker in 1906 and began using the name Madam C.J. Walker. She went on to develop cosmetics along with other hair-care products and hired “agents” to sell these door to door. Her manufacturing company, which moved to Indianapolis in 1910, grew to employ over 3,000 workers.
Madam Walker established beauty schools and funded scholarships. She gave generously to the NAACP, the black YMCA, and homes for the aged. In fact, two-thirds of her estate was left to educational and charitable institutions.