Sarah Breedlove (Madam C.J. Walker) was born on December 23 1867 near Delta Lousiana. She went all around Southern and Western U.S. along with her husband to sell hair and beauty products. She came up with all of these formulas around the 1890s, when her scalp devolved a disorder that caused her to lose all her hair, during this time she had tried multiple ways to fix her scalp, which these hair products were amazing for people without the issue. With her knowledge of African hair, she was able to create new products, and in 1908 she bought a factory to create her products in bulk. She hired staffed and they were referred to as “Walkers” and she taught them about Cleanliness and Loveliness. She organized Clubs and Conventions which daughter her “Walkers” not only about sales, but also educated them in all sorts of things. She later died in 1919 due to hypertension (age 51), her company had made millions, and she left 1/3rd of her estate to her daughter A’lelia Walker.
Following the Industrial revolution, raw materials—such as rubber—was needed and in high demand to keep up with the high production of high producing factories. Colonizing Africa, European powers siphoned it's natural resources in response to high trade demand. For rubber found in the Congo, king Leopold would bring about forced labor using kidnapping, amputation, and genocide to steal every bit of rubber he could.
Much like a gold rush, the “rubber rush” was in the early 1890's and had empires racing to get first dibs on it. Rubber was needed because of the evergrowing industrialization happening in the larger empires. The needed rubber for bikes, factory belts and gaskets, and to coat telephone and telegraph lines.
King of Belgium, Leopold II had an private army of 19,000 soldiers from which some would go into the Congolese villages and take the women and daughters hostage. The men of the village were then forced to complete a monthly quota of raw rubber. As the price of rubber increased, so did the monthly quota, which forced the men to go further out from the village to find more rubber trees to harvest. Sometimes they would have to walk days or weeks to find new trees and most of the women the soldiers took hostage of died of starvation anyway, because of the terrible conditions.
“Tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of Congolese fled their villages to avoid being impressed as forced labourers, and they sought refuge deep in the forest, where there was little food and shelter. Tens of thousands of others were shot down in failed rebellions against the regime. One particularly notorious practice grew out of the suppression of those rebellions. To prove that he had not wasted bullets—or, worse yet, saved them for use in a mutiny—for each bullet expended, a Congolese soldier of the Force Publique had to present to his white officer the severed hand of a rebel killed. Baskets of severed hands thus resulted from expeditions against rebels. If a soldier fired at someone and missed, or used a bullet to shoot game, he then sometimes cut off the hand of a living victim to be able to show it to his officer.”
As a result of this forced labor, many Congolese tried to flee their villages by the tens of thousands to escape. Another tens of thousands of Congolese were massacred in failed rebellions. From these suppressive genocides, came the practice where soldiers would amputate the right hand of those they've killed a documentation and proof that they weren't wasting bullets on hunting. As a result of this requirement, the soldiers would amputate the right hand of a living Congolese if they missed their target or if they wanted to use bullets to hunt.