Madame C.J. Walker was America’s first self-made female millionaire. She amassed her fortune through hard work, innovative ideas, and a fierce dedication to her craft and her people. Contrary to most historical accounts, Madame C.J. Walker did not invent the pressing comb. Per her own words, Madame Walker started the “hair-growing” business, borne out her desire to remedy her own hair loss.
In 1910 Madame C.J. Walker moved her ever expanding “Special Correspondence Course” business, founded on her System of Beauty Culture, to Indianapolis. There she purchased and paid for her home adjoining which was a factory and laboratory. On September 2, 1911 she petitioned the Indiana Secretary of State to become incorporated and on September 19th, 1911, said petition was granted, marking the genesis of the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company of Indiana, Inc. wherein Madame Walker was the President and sole shareholder of all 1,000 shares of stock.
She was also an early civil rights advocate on behalf of Black people, and an avid financial supporter of what today we call HBCU”s or Historically Black Colleges and Universities. By the time of her passing in 1919, Madame C.J. Walker had built one of the largest black owned manufacturing companies in the world, an international network of over 15,000 Madame Walker agents, beauty schools in three states, and a 32 room mansion at Irvington-on-the-Hudson, New York.
Madame’s only child, A’Lelia Walker became President of the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company of Indiana upon her mother’s passing. Per Madame’s will, two-thirds of the stock of the Company was placed in a Trust, over which were five Trustees. The other one-third of the stock of the company was bequeathed to her only child. When A’Lelia died, the one-third share of stock she owned was “split” between two people, each receiving onesixth share. The majority two-thirds remained in the Trust.
Over six decades later, in 1985, the Trustees petitioned the Marion County Probate court to allow them to sell the stock and assets of Madame Walker’s company, including inventory and historical documents, to a man named Raymond Randolph. The owners of the remaining shares of stock also agreed to sell their shares to Raymond Randolph. Thus, on December 20th, 1985, Raymond L. Randolph became the first person since Madame C.J. Walker herself to own all 1000 shares of stock in the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company of Indiana, aka the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.
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