According to numerous accounts, Madam C. J. Walker was a deeply philanthropic woman. This commitment to giving was influenced by her impoverished childhood but also by the aid she received from charitable organizations such as the Saint Louis Colored Orphan’s Home, which helped take care of her daughter Lelia. Even while poor, Walker was committed to giving back by leading charitable efforts through her church.
With her wealth, Walker was able to amplify her personal impact by focusing on helping other African Americans. She did this through donations to educational institutions such as the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, a teacher training school in Alabama for black students, and the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute, , now Bethune-Cookman University in Florida. She donated to Alpha Home, a retirement facility for elderly African American women; Flanner House,a social services institution; the Senate Avenue YMCA, and more. She also used her wealth to support African American artists and musicians.
Pursuing the same mission of community uplift that drove her philanthropic giving, Madam Walker was also engaged in activism on behalf of her community. Her activism took many forms, including court cases, monetary donations, and political lobbying. Notably, she held a meeting of African American suffragists in her home around 1912 and provided leadership to the NAACP’s anti-lynching efforts, even visiting the White House in support of the issue in 1917.