Black History Heroes

Leadership has always been a part of history.  Often we hear about the profound leaders and most of the time others get overlooked.  February is Black History Month and we at the Walter Center for Strategic Leadership would like to celebrate the outstanding leadership and accomplishments of African-Americans during this time.

Black History Heroes: Black Women in Business

Maggie Lena Walker


Maggie Lena Walker was an African-American teacher and successful businesswoman.  She was the first female to become president of a bank in the United States.  Walker began her career as a teacher but would later leave her teaching job to join the Independent Order of St. Luke, an organization designed to for the social and financial advancement of African-Americans.  Walker became the organizations lifelong grand secretary and would go on to found a newspaper, open a bank and a department store during her time.

Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker Portrait

Madam C.J. Walker created specialized hair products for African American hair and was one of the firs women in the United States to become a self-made millionaire.  After losing her own hair due to a scalp ailment she invented a line of African-American hair products in 1905.  She would go on to travel the country promoting her products as well giving back through her philanthropic endeavors.

Sarah E. Goode


Sarah E. Goode was born into slavery but would later become a successful entrepreneur and the first African-American woman to be granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for inventing a folding cabinet bed in 1885.  Goode owned a furniture store in Chicago, most of her customers were working-class and lived in smaller apartment spaces.  Goode developed a solution for the space problem plaguing many people short on space.  She would go on to invent a cabinet bed which would later be called a Murphy bed. Good received her patent for her invention on July 14, 1885.

Together these women have used their ingenuity and business knowledge to lead the way for others like them.  They have developed products and inventions that have had a lasting impact on society.  These women are leaders, heroes and trailblazers and we are happy to celebrate their success.

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