Sarah Breedlove Walker was born the daughter of former slaves and orphaned at the age of seven. She went on to become America's first African American woman millionaire business-owner.

Faced with the loss of her own hair from a scalp ailment, Walker - by then known as Madame C. J. Walker - invented a new hair-care process and began marketing a line of cosmetics for black women in 1905. She funded scholarships and donated funds that allowed Frederick Douglass's home to be turned into a museum.

Now, 38 percent of the nation's African American owned businesses are headed by women -- a higher percentage than any other minority race or ethnic group.

This profile is adapted from Profile America, a radio series produced by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004.