We all face obstacles in life. One obstacle I tackled in my life was figuring out how to complete my education at night while working demanding full-time jobs. I started my college journey in my early-twenties at The Urban College of Boston for an associate degree, went on to Lesley University in Cambridge Massachusetts to obtain a bachelor degree and then attended the University of Massachusetts Boston to pursue a master degree in education. The obstacles and hardships I had to overcome are too long to list. However, in addition to my faith, the one certainty I had in my armor toolkit was a vision for my life and what I wanted to accomplish.
The story of Madam C.J. Walker is a first-class example of the power of a vision and overcoming obstacles.
Born in 1867 in Delta, Louisiana, Sarah Breedlove was born of her parents Minerva and Owen Breedlove. Sarah was orphaned at age seven, married at age 14, a mother at age17, widowed at 20, and at age 40 became one of America’s wealthiest businesswomen. Sarah Breedlove later became Madam C.J. Walker, a woman who rose from the horrible pains of systematic poverty, stood to become an employer, a philanthropist, and a manufacturer. Madam C.J. Walker developed hair products, specifically for black women that were revolutionary in her time and the techniques she innovated are still used widely today. Despite her lack of education and formal business training, Madam C.J. Walker founded a hair school to teach her employees the techniques of her products and methods. Madam Walker was reported to have had a sales force of 20,000 strong and used her best clients as her “Walker Agents” to promote her hair care and facial products around the country.
Madam C.J. Walker went on to produce small black-owned businesses across the United States and the Caribbean that allowed thousands of black women to open beauty shops using the Walker line products. Through self-determination and hard work, she overcame tremendous obstacles, and in doing so, provided an opportunity for herself and others. Her inspiring story travels beyond race, gender, differences and even time. We should all remind ourselves no matter what obstacles or hardships we face in life, it does not necessarily have a bearing on your future. My advice, create a vision for your life. Face your obstacles head-on and find the opportunities that are there, just for you.
You can do it!