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I can promise you right here, right now, this is not the first or last time you’ll see me writing about Madam C. J. Walker.
Because she — the daughter of enslaved parents, who became a single mother with only 3 months of formal education, living in a time when the thought of a Black person becoming a millionaire was laughable, totally unrealistic, and downright impossible…
She still became the first Black woman millionaire in the United States.
I could stop right there and that would be the end of a powerful post giving you all the motivation you need to achieve your dreams.
But I want to focus on one part of Madam C. J. Walker’s story that doesn’t get quite as much attention as the revolutionary wealth she created.
Madam Walker taught me that being a millionaire is not just about stuntin’ in your new whip (which she probably definitely enjoyed — and I know I definitely do, too). It’s also about empowering others.
Her mission and ambition was to improve not just her own life, but also the lives of her people. She dared to dream of a better world, and then she got her ass up to create it.
How did she do this?
By using her wealth.
Through her haircare empire, she recruited and trained Black women to become sales representatives for her company.
At a time when the majority of Black women were employed as domestic servants earning as little as $100–$240 annually, Madam C. J. Walker was offering the kind of economic mobility and stability that the government refused to.
But that’s not all.
She also hosted one of the first conventions for American businesswomen in 1917, under the theme “Women’s Duty to Women.” During the event, she encouraged the attendees to become community leaders and agents of change.
This prompted the attendees to not only give to charity, but to also send a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson urging him to support legislation that would make lynching a federal crime.
There are countless other stories about her contributions to social, educational, and arts movements, many of which benefited and advanced the lives of Black women, and the entire Black community in general.
Walker’s strong conviction that Black women should be financially independent was the driving force behind her life’s mission — a mission that was not self-centered, but community-centered.
And she made it all happen with the wealth she built for herself.
She’s one of those people who’s inspired me to consider: “What am I doing all of this for? What do I want to leave behind? How can I make a lasting impact that will outlive me?”
While reflecting on my own life, I realized I wanted to use my wealth to support Black moms like me.
I had three extremely difficult birthing experiences with my own kids. Fortunately, I made a full recovery and felt well supported, mainly because I had the financial means to get help.
But that’s not the case for the majority of Black mothers.
These are the facts:
Black women are three to five times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women, and more than 60% of these deaths are preventable.
Black working moms are over-represented in service industry jobs, which often do not provide paid sick leave, paid family leave, or childcare for employees.
And, because Black women tend to earn significantly less than their white colleagues, they’re often financially stressed and unable to pay for the birthing and childcare services they need most.
I refuse to sit back and watch another Black mother suffer.
Through this Foundation, I’m aiming to help at least 10 Black moms before the end of 2021 by giving them access to life-changing and life-saving services before, during, and after childbirth.
To learn more about the Foundation and how you can help us achieve our mission with donations and support, visit the Hello Seven Foundation website.
I hope Madam C.J. Walker’s story — and my own — inspire you to believe that building wealth will help us create the change we want to see in this world.
In the comments below, share your vision for how you’ll support your community with your money one day, too.