Afternoon, Madam! by Garrett Smith

America’s first self-made female millionaire, and why you never hear about her.

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If you follow the mainstream version of American history, or history in general, then you’re most likely familiar with the general narrative: America has always been oppressive to races other than the white race, and although we have made significant progress, America continues to be a racist, oppressive nation.

To people who believe this narrative, although some minorities have done well on their own, overall, minorities in America will always need the government’s help to be able to achieve any means of success. The mainstream, controlled mostly by the Democratic Party’s elites, wants this narrative. In order to stay in power, they need the American people to be divided not just by class, but by race. As Conservatives, however, we understand that, even though America has flaws that come with any nation, America is exceptional because of our willingness to rise above our mistakes. America once had slavery, but so did many other nations, and some continue to. What is unique to America, however, is that we ended slavery as a result of a war. The only other nation in the Western Hemisphere to do that was Haiti.

America also had Native removal, segregation, Jim Crow laws, lynching, and the Ku Klux Klan. What do these things have in common? They were all controlled by the Democratic Party. Today, the Democratic Party’s racism has shifted. It is no longer found in the open, but rather through their willingness to keep minorities in check through systems such as the welfare state. In other words, they provide what is needed, but rarely more, to keep them voting for Democrats. Any minority who dares think for themselves is immediately called “Uncle Tom,” “Sellout,” or other vicious names by liberals. Throughout the 1960s, racism began to decline among Democrats, as they found that it was receiving more opposition across the country. Every civil rights bill of the 1960s passed with more Republican support than Democrat.

If we take a look back to the early 1900s, we see a brave woman defy the narrative. Keep in mind, this was during a time when blacks were heavily suppressed by the Democratic Party. Born in 1867 near Delta, Louisiana, Sarah Breedlove came from a cotton plantation, and she was the first child born in her family after the abolition of slavery. Breedlove’s family remained sharecroppers on the land until 1877, when they left Louisiana. They ended up in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where Sarah did housework and washed clothes. She married at the age of 14, though her husband died following the birth of their daughter. Sarah remarried in 1894, but later divorced him, due to his drinking habits and his financial instability.

Over 10 years later, she began dating Charles Joseph Walker, a salesman. Her life began to change, however, when she met Annie Turnbo-Pope, a saleswoman who was known for her product, “The Great Wonderful Hair Grower.” Sarah liked the product and began selling it. She married C.J. Walker on January 4, 1906 in Denver, Colorado. Later, Madam Walker, as she was known, became the first self-made female millionaire in America.

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Reflecting on the subtitle, I would like to ask a rhetorical question: Why have most people never heard of Madam Walker? For me, as well as most conservatives, the answer is simple. Madam Walker achieved the American Dream after rising from some of the most unfortunate circumstances, and she did it without much help from the government.

In other words, she does not fit the leftist narrative of America as an oppressive regime. Even in the midst of heavy Democratic resistance during the early 1900s, Madam Walker defied her obstacles, overcame them, and became an example, not just for women and minorities, but for all Americans, and she more than deserves the title of hero. Alongside her business life, she also became a political activist for African-American rights.

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Madam Walker is a shining example of someone who stares resistance in the face, laughs at it, and rises higher than the occasion. Today, every American deserves to know her story. They deserve to know that, no matter their race or gender, no matter what obstacles are thrown at them, they have the ability to overcome them. America has oppression in its past – there is no doubt; but so does virtually every other nation. America is exceptional because we are an idea. Our idea tries to constantly improve, and people from all over immigrate here to live the American Dream. How horrible the world would be without America, the land that Lincoln once called “The last best hope on Earth;” the land that Reagan once called a “shining city on a hill.”

For those who think they will never be able to achieve the American Dream because the oppression is too great, perhaps Madam Walker can better persuade you. At the National Black Business League Convention in 1912, she stated, “I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations…I have built my own factory on my own ground.”

For a great reenactment of Madam Walker, watch Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary, “America: Imagine the World Without Her.”


  1. Sarah Breedlove, Madam C.J. Walker, born December 23, 1867.

  2. D’Souza, Dinesh (2014). “America, Imagine the World Without Her.” Regnery Publishing.

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