Madam C.J. Walker is the subject of Netflix’s latest series called Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. History describes her as a self-made millionaire, but she actually didn’t quite have that net worth during her life. But if you adjust how much she was worth for inflation today, she was a multimillionaire. Here’s what you need to know about Walker’s net worth.
1. She Had a Net Worth of $600,000 When She Died
Based in part by her successful hair care line, Madam C.J. Walker became one of the wealthiest Americans of the 1900s, Vox reported. But she wasn’t a millionaire (at least not by the standards of the time.) She had a net worth of about $600,000 when she died at the young age of 51 of kidney failure.
2. Her Net Worth Equaled Approximately $8 Million Today
When the $600,000 that she was worth when she died in 1919 is adjusted for inflation, it equals about $8.8 million today, according to Philanthropy Roundtable. So although she wasn’t technically the first woman to be a self-made millionaire, she is a millionaire by today’s inflation rates.
Her business rival, Annie Malone, was already a self-made millionaire when Walker passed away. Malone, however, isn’t quite as well known in history. She a prominent figure in the new Netflix series, portrayed as the character Addie Munroe.
3. She Persevered Despite Being Left as a Widow and Single Mom at a Young Age
Walker was an incredibly talented woman. She was raised by her older sister and her sister’s husband after her parents died. She only went to school for a few months and she married at 14 to escape an abusive home life. But then her husband died when she was 20, leaving her a widow and single mom, Vox reported. Despite so much to fight against, she persevered and experienced amazing success in her short life.
4. Walker Had a Beautiful Estate Called Villa Lewaro
Walker lived on a gorgeous estate called Villa Lewaro in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. The 34-room, 20,000-square-foot home is 30 miles north of New York City, in a neighborhood where the Rockefellers and Astors also lived, New York Post reported. Her mansion is a National Historic Landmark.
It was designed by Vertner Tandy and cost $250,000 at the time. The villa had a swimming pool, marble floor, and was based on Italian Renaissance architecture. She had only lived there about a year when she died of kidney failure.
5. She Was Known for Championing Philanthropy & Activism
She trained agents in cosmetology in a factory and salon set up behind her West Street home, Indianapolis Monthly reported. At one point, she donated $1,000 to build the Senate Avenue YMCA, which helped make her a community leader nationally.
Walker devoted her life to philanthropy and activism. She sued a movie theater for charging blacks more than whites and the FBI even spied on her, NBC News reported. At the time, she was one of the richest women in the country and she helped her female employees enjoy great opportunities and better salaries than they might have earned in other businesses, NBC News reported.
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