Sarah Breedlove’s life was the stuff of binge-worthy TV. Born on a cotton plantation to newly freed slaves in 1867, she toiled as a washerwoman in early 20th-century St. Louis before founding a business empire. After selling products for St. Louis hair-care magnate Annie Malone, she launched a line of her own under her married name, Madam C.J. Walker — and became the richest African American woman in the country. At the time of her death, in 1919, Walker had amassed a fortune of over $7 million in today’s money.
A little over a century later, Madam C.J. Walker’s remarkable life has gotten the Hollywood treatment. The Netflix series “Self Made” tells the story of Walker’s rise and what it portrays as a toxic relationship with Malone, fictionalized as “Addie Monroe.”