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Madam C.J. Walker began her life as Sarah Breedlove. The fifth of six children, she was born on December 23, 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War. Her parents, Owen and Minerva Breedlove, had been enslaved but were living as “freedmen,” working as sharecroppers on their former enslaver's plantation. In return for laboring twelve hours a day under the hot sun, they received a share of the cotton harvest.