It is not easy for an African American in the United States to create their own legacy, especially a woman in the early 1900s like Madam CJ Walker. The story of a woman who came from an enslaved mother manifested her own destiny by becoming an entrepreneur.

As a woman building an empire, she overcame adversity to make a fortune on her beauty products. This was unheard of when she established her legacy that has continued to inspire many people throughout time. Why would you not go and learn what you can from the story about a self-made millionaire, activist and philanthropist?

You Are There: 1915 opens on September 21 at the Indiana Historical Society. This also happens to be Smithsonian Museum Day, meaning you can go opening day, be one of the first to see this exhibit, and get FREE admission. If you cannot make it on opening day, don't worry! It will remain open until January 23, 2021.

You Are There 1915: Madam C.J. Walker, Empowering Women

Learn about the different products she created, how she helped nurture beauty and hair care in Indianapolis. But more importantly, you can learn about the way she gave back to her community, often donating to African American organizations in Indianapolis such as Flanner House and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was a powerful role model in Indianapolis in the early 20th century, and fostered African American arts, music, and culture in the city.

In addition, there are unique opportunities to learn about individuals who were important throughout her lifetime, such as her daughter Lelia, lawyer Freeman Ransom, artist John Wesley Hardrick, editor of the Indianapolis Freeman George Knox and her employees.

In the day and age of technology, we don't celebrate the past as much as we praise the millionaires of today's time. This is an opportunity to pay homage to someone who has paved the way for many woman and African Americans.

Celebrating Her Legacy in Indy

Madam CJ Walker Combs The Alexander

In addition to You Are There 1915: Madam CJ Walker, Empowering Women at the Indiana Historical Society, there are many things going in the community highlighting Madam CJ Walker:

  • Madam Walker Legacy Center: Once the Walker Manufacturing Plant the Legacy Center was transformed to have a way to acknowledge Madam CJ Walker in the Indianapolis community forever! Though the site is closed for renovations until 2020, you can still explore their programming and dedication to their mission.
  • Indiana Avenue: This historical district was a connection area that was seen as a cultural hub for African Americans in the early 1800s and kept momentum through the early 1970s.
  • Freetown Village: Interact with history as never before, as Freetown Villiage present The Madam Walker Story, another form of learning the story of Madam CJ Walker in the form of a performance.
  • The Alexander: Artist Sonya Clark created a Madam CJ Walker portrait art piece out of combs, steel and cable - this can be seen in The Alexander hotel downtown Indianapolis. How cool is it to create a portrait piece out of combs given her legacy?