The Champions Who Walked Among Us – Article 1 – The Washerwoman
The war had been over two years when she was born. It was a cold day, perhaps raining down on the Delta in Louisiana, two days before Christmas. Even though the people knew they were free citizens, the terror had already begun, and by the time, her eyes had opened, and she had begun to see the beautiful light of the world on December 23, 1867, almost everything, which had been proclaimed in the Emancipation Proclamation of the late President Abraham Lincoln, had been watered down with a hose, and reconstruction had become a word of the past––at least in the South.
Orphaned at the age of seven, she was married off by her older sister at the age of fourteen, to escape the abuse of her brother-in-law––the kind of abuse no one sees, but one speculates he tried to beat down the pride she had about herself. She was barely a teenager, but who would have known it; who would have cared. Her best asset was her belief that she was a valuable person called to do something extraordinary.
At the age of twenty, she was left alone as a widow in the world with a child and a lot of dreams about helping women of color discover the beauty they had within. So packing what she and her baby had in one suitcase, she left the town where she was married in Vicksburg, Mississippi behind her and went to the Middle parts of the United States to get her education and better herself, while living with one of her brothers.
Having kinky, coarse hair that was unruly and unmanageable, she had lost all of her hair, not because of neglect, but because of the ignorance that controlled the minds of some of the people who decided what was or was not beautiful, in a world where the majority rule quota set up by these same people who had escaped tyranny, enticed them to ignore the liberty and inalienable rights of other human beings, who were captured and involuntary subjected to slavery, and she went about to fulfill a market need the business world had ignored as being irrelevant, in a time where black women were considered as three-fourth human, and women in the United States were not even allowed vote. In fact, we can consider her as the first woman scientist in the United States who had her own laboratory–– in her home, mind you. This woman broke many rules and regulations in a society that thought the Afro-American was incapable of learning and making intelligent decisions for themselves.
- The first female to start a business and franchise it out later to others, teaching them to run businesses for themselves long before Mary Kay.
- She was one of, if not, the first woman philanthropist donating to many organizations and orphanages for Afro-Americans.
- She became the first self -made female millionaire.
On May 25, 1919, the bell at the New York Stock Exchange stopped for a minute to honor this woman! A First Among Firsts had abandoned this world forever, as problems with hypertension, the number one killer of Afro-American women, shortened her life.
Here, was a woman who:
- Stood out in her time when women were supposed to keep quiet;
- Who fulfilled her dream of getting an education;
- Who started her own business while working as a washerwoman;
- Who said No to the defining roles, which were being dictated by society for black American women, concerning our beauty and integrity;
- A woman that took pride in the beauty of who she was;
- A woman who Walked On through the adversity of life and changed her world,
Madam C.J. Walker, had ended her journey and departed this world, at the age of fifty-one, and for a minute, the world stood still in silent recognition.
Walk On! I say, Walk On!