How Atlanta Stylist Ricci De Forest Transformed Madam C.J. Walker’s Historic Salon into a Museum


February 23, 2024

He’s paying homage to the legacy of the iconic figure who revolutionized hair care for Black women!

In a move to preserve Black history, Atlanta hairstylist Ricci De Forest converted Madam C.J. Walker’s historic beauty shop into a museum, anchoring it in the heart of the neighborhood that once housed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home.

Ricci de Forest, Founder and Proprietor / Credit: The Madame C.J. Walker Museum

According to Black Enterprise, De Forest’s journey to acquiring the beauty shop, once owned by Madam C.J. Walker, spans three decades, reflecting his commitment to preserving its historical significance. Alongside the establishment, he also gained possession of the original hair tools that contributed to Walker’s prominence in the beauty world. The stylists who worked at the salon over the years witnessed the evolution of the nation and the city, evident in the changing costs of typical hairstyles.


Reflecting on the historical context, de Forest shared, “When she started doing hair here in the 1940s with these tools, a shampoo and press was 25 cents for a Negro woman.”

Madam C.J. Walker, recognized as America’s first self-made female millionaire, not only left an indelible mark on the beauty industry but also made significant contributions to social and racial justice. Born during the Jim Crow era, Walker used her entrepreneurial success to advocate for change, delivering lectures, and generously supporting the National Association of Colored Women’s clubs.

The building that houses the salon also holds another piece of Atlanta’s history – WERD radio station, the first Black-owned radio station established in 1949. Located just above the beauty shop, it inspired de Forest to integrate Black music history into the museum. A donated record and photographs of artists associated with the station pay homage to the crucial role WERD played from 1949 to 1968, serving as the platform Dr. Martin Luther King used to communicate essential information during the Civil Rights Movement.


Open to the public, the Madame C.J. Walker Museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time, experiencing the influence of Walker and WERD on the Black American community.

Cover photo: Madam C.J. Walker’s Historic Salon is Now a Museum / Credit: @dashboard_us on Instagram

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