This is a page of my “writings”… 🙂 Stories and reports for school. Enjoy!
Madam CJ Walker
BORN A SLAVE, DIED A MILLIONAIRE
Hundreds of hair and beauty hygiene products have been created for us, yet most were by white people that already had lots of respect. However, one woman changed the care for black women and made their life easier by creating the Walker System. She also led an amazing life behind the scenes while managing a large business. Who was this woman? She went by Madam CJ Walker.
Madam CJ was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867. 1 Her mother’s name was Minerva, (maiden name unknown) and her father was Owen Breedlove. Sadly, although she was born into freedom,2 her early life was not a happy one. Both parents died of yellow fever when she was about six or seven years old.3 Sarah went to live with her oldest sister Louvenia. She suffered abuse from her brother-in-law Jesse Powell and married Moses McWilliams in an unromantic way in 18814. She insisted that it was only a way of escape; nothing more. “I married at the age of fourteen,” she said later. “in order to get a home of my own.”5 At age 17 she gave birth to her first and last child, A’lelia. Sadly, Moses died in 1888 when she was around 20 years old, possibly killed in a lynching.
After he passed away, Sarah decided to move to St. Louis with her two year old daughter where she got a job as a washerwoman. There is little known about her marriage to John Davis on August 11, 1894, which also took place in St. Louis. The marriage only lasted until sometime in 1903—about nine years of an unreliable marriage. Sarah even earned enough money to send A’lelia to school and eventually to Knoxville College in Tennessee. While Sarah was there she began to lose her short hair. The woman realized she was growing old and wondered what would happen to her precious A’lelia. ‘What are you going to do when you grow old and your back gets stiff? Who is going to take care of your little girl?” she often asked herself. Around the same time, after she had started to worry about the future and her hair, she awoke from a dream, describing it as, “A big black man appeared to me and told me what to mix up for my hair. Some of the remedy was grown in Africa, but I sent for it, put it on my scalp, and in a few weeks my hair was coming in faster than it had ever fallen out.” Sarah called it “God’s help”. Ms. Breedlove used it for herself around 1900—1905. She was thrilled at her success and soon started to sell the “potion” for a low price. It’s said that she started off her business with only $1.25. She made her hair grower and called it the Walker System. The way it was used was with shampoo, a pomade “hair-grower,” vigorous brushing, and the application of heated hair combs.
In 1905 Sarah decided to move to Denver, where she became a sales agent for Annie Malone, an African American entrepreneur for a hair product company. She only worked there for a while, but some believe she managed to steal Malone’s hair product formula. There is no proof, though, that she ever stole it. Also in Denver she married her friend Charles Joseph Walker who was a newspaperman. After the wedding on January 4, 1906 he encouraged her to try new business strategies and gave her tips and soon she agreed to change her name to Madam CJ Walker—the ‘madam’ chosen to add a classic touch. She began door-to-door sales and the money started pouring in. In 1908, Madam CJ founded a school in Pittsburg named after her daughter, calling it the Lelia College to train beauticians how to use the Walker System. She was making an average of $10 a week, which was quite a paycheck at its time. In 1910, Madam CJ moved to Indianapolis to build a factory, hair and manicure salon, and even a beauty care training school. Soon the salary was $35 a week and it just kept climbing. She was satisfied with her steady income and she and her husband both continued making money off of her product. Sadly, their partnership in business didn’t strengthen their marriage, and the couple separated in 1912, after six years of marriage. She never married again. The same year, A’lelia adopted a thirteen year old girl, Fairy Mae.
The divorce from Charles didn’t discourage Madam CJ’s business growth, though. She continued making money and in 1913 traveled to the Caribbean and Central America, all to expand her ever-growing business, while A’lelia moved into a house built by black architect Vertner Tandy. It seemed everyone was using her Walker Method. Black women and men alike loved her new treatment for their hair. In 1916, Madam CJ took her business to New York, where she became very active in attending, giving towards, and speaking at anti-lynching meetings, anti-slavery meetings, and donating money to educational funds, such as programs to help women and African-Americans. She even helped give money to start a school in West Africa!
All amazing lives must come to an end, though. Just seven months shy of her 52nd birthday, the first African American self-made female millionaire died of kidney failure. A’lelia inherited her mother’s business. By the time of her death on May 25, 1919, Madam CJ Walker had made over $500,000 -which is equivalent to our five million- in hair products. Patience and perseverance can really get you far, even from a poor orphan to a millionaire in just 45 years. As Madam CJ Walker said, “Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”
A MIRACLE—the true story of Truman Mouro
One afternoon is May of 2012, I was setting the dinner table, happily thinking of the upcoming summer, when my mom made an announcement that would shake up the whole month for a lot of people. Just two words: “Truman drowned.”
Truman is the Mouro’s youngest son. We’d met them only a few months before the accident, but it was still a heavy shock. Truman had a sister that was only a few days younger than me, along with five older siblings and a sister on the way. Even though it was almost two years ago, I still have vivid memories about that May. Truman was a lively 13 month old baby who loved trucks and had blond hair. He was like every other toddler. Up until that afternoon in May, Truman lived a normal life.
As my mom gasped and shared the news she’d seen on Facebook that summer evening, my heart stopped. It hesitatingly started pulsing again when mom said he had been revived and sent to a hospital. The first thought I had had was that he was dead and I got that vague sense of panic you have when bad news reaches your ears. Truman drowned in an accident. That was all we knew. The Facebook status message simply read something like: “Our little boy Truman drowned yesterday. Please pray as we are in the hospital.”
“Mom, did you hear anything from Mrs. Mouro?” I asked constantly through the long day. The answer was pretty much always the same—no. The bliss of the approaching summer days was dethroned. Even though I wasn’t absolutely devastated, the uncomfortable reminder that the Mouro family was spending sad days in the hospital while we played soccer and made forts in our backyard made it at home in the back of my mind. I sent Anna, Truman’s older sister and my best friend cards and even talked on the phone with her—the latter we never did. Even though I had learned the whole story by that time, I listened while she poured it all out again.
One Wednesday, while the little boy lay in the hospital, Anna and her younger brother Jonas came over for the day. We played the piano, painted our nails, and had a water fight with the boys. Anyone who had seen us in the back yard, yelling and laughing with soaked shirts, happily shivering, would have never been able to tell which on had a baby brother in the ER. When we dropped Anna and Jonas off at the hospital, I remember mom talking to Anna’s dad.
“How’s he doing?” mom asked quietly, wrinkling her forehead.
Mr. Mouro just shook his head sadly. “Honestly—we just don’t know.” He finally said.
A few weeks later, our family of six gathered in the living room to pray for Truman. When my turn came, I couldn’t even get any words out without choking on salty tears. Little did I know, while we were in our little 3-bedroom home near Detroit, praying for a little boy’s life, hundreds were doing the same across the world. Facebook pages, blogs, and real people helped to spread the word about Truman’s situation. From the time he drowned, went to the hospital and finally came home to a loving and ecstatic family with only a feeding tube to prove anything ever happened, lots of people had him in their thoughts.
Although that month was one of the most saddest and stressful months I’ve ever lived through, it was also one of the most miraculous.
(google Truman Mouro–he has pages and pages about him. That is our friends!!)