Madam C.J. Walker’s Cause of Death: How Did She Die?

Netflix Madam C.J. Walker as portrayed in the new Netflix series.

Madam C.J. Walker was an amazing, talented woman who built an empire. She is often referred to as the first female self-made millionaire. Tragically, she died in her early 50s. She accomplished a lot in a short period of time and now she’s the subject of a new Netflix series.


She Died of Kidney Failure & Hypertension Complications

In 1919, Walker died of kidney failure, Vox reported. She was only 51, so it was an untimely and early death. There was so much left in her life that she could have contributed to the world, but she was taken far too soon. Indianapolis Monthly reported that she died of hypertension complications (which are high blood pressure complications.)

According to Philanthropy Roundtable, she had been diagnosed with hypertension and nephritis in 1917.

Her doctors advised her to slow down her schedule, but she took on more activities instead and only stopped when her health forced her to do so, Philanthropy Roundtable reported. She still took joined a Harlem delegation of leaders and went to Washington, D.C., seeking full rights for black Americans in World War I.

She died while her daughter, A’Lelia, and her granddaughter, Mae, were traveling home from a Panama business trip. A’Lelia was only 34 and she was devastated. She married Dr. Wiley Wilson, a physician and pharmacist, shortly after her mother’s death.

Madam C.J. Walker had planned to build a headquarters on Indiana Avenue but died eight years before her vision could be completed. Today the building is called the Madam Walker Legacy Center, Indianapolis Monthly reported.

When Walker died, her net worth was about $600,000, Vox reported. That’s worth approximately $8 million accounting for inflation today. She left much of her estate to charity.

She once said: “I am in the business world, not for myself alone, but to do all the good I can for the uplift of my race.”


Her Daughter Also Died from Hypertension Complications

Madam C.J. Walker’s only daughter, A’Lelia, died in 1931. She was president of her mother’s company and a prominent businesswoman and socialite all on her own. Before her mother died, she ran divisions of her company and took over the entire business after her death.

She remained president of her mother’s company until she died in August 1931 of a cerebral hemorrhage from hypertension on the same day that she was hosting a birthday party for a friend. Her hypertension had worsened during the Great Depression when sales took a nosedive, but it was an issue she had struggled with for some time. She was only 46, even younger than her mother was when she passed away.

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