The legacy of Madam C.J. Walker in Indianapolis, IN

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The new Madame Walker mural

Have you posed in front of this wall yet?

Photo by INDYtoday team

Madam C.J. Walker has been making headlines left + right, with her face centered in the newly painted mural downtown + a Barbie created in her honor.

Want to get to know the Hoosier legend a little more? Here are a few facts about the self-made millionaire.

  • Her real name was Sarah Breedlove + she was born in Louisiana, moving to Indianapolis in the early 1900s to start up her business selling “Madam CJ Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower.” Fun fact: This year — 100 years later — Madam Walker’s family launched a new hair-care line for the Madam C.J. Walker Company.
  • Madam Walker moved to Indy in 1910 because it was the largest inland manufacturing center in the nation at that time. Her factory also included a hair and manicure salon, along with another training school. The Madam Walker Legacy Center was built after her death + became the company’s new manufacturing site.
  • A civic-minded individual, she was a member of the Bethel AME Church (which is now a hotel hybrid) + a local chapter of the Black Knights of Pythias. She was recorded to have hosted meetings for the Colored Branch of the Indiana Equal Suffrage Association in her home after the 19th Amendment was ratified.
  • Madam Walker bought a house at at 640 N. West St. (which is now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street) + renovated an old stable and warehouse to become a factory and office space at the rear of the property.
  • She made national headlines when she donated $1,000 to help fund the Senate Avenue YMCA.
  • She’s the great-great grandmother of Hoosier A’Lelia Bundles — who helped to create Netflix series “Self Made,” starring Octavia Spencer + Tiffany Haddish. ICYMI: A’Lelia was named the first Center for Africana Studies and Culture Prestigious Fellow in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI this year.

Interested in diving deeper into the life of another Hoosier hero? Let us know who you’re curious about.

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