Celebrating Women's History

Madam Walker Legacy Center names Kristian Stricklen as new president

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There’s the Madam Walker legend and then there’s the legacy. As a new president of the Madam Walker Legacy Center takes office, she said both will live on.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month we shed a light on another example of Indy women taking charge. The Madam Walker Legacy Center is in the final phases of a multimillion-dollar renovation project.

The center’s incoming President Kristian Stricklen was on the board when renovations began. Now as president, she’ll be able to do more than advise and get directly involved in helping keep the Walker legacy alive.

Madam Walker’s name is big in Indianapolis. Literally and figuratively.

“It is humbling and it is such an honor. I’m an Indianapolis native so I grew up knowing about Madam Walker,” said Stricklen.

Walker’s story is one of resilience. And for generations it’s resonated with women everywhere, showing just how big women can dream.

“I think that’s why it’s always just been so amazing and encouraging to me as a young Black woman. That Madam Walker actually built her business in the early 1900s. Right here in Indianapolis,” said Stricklen.

Stricklen’s role is more than just a title, it’s a piece of an ever-growing legacy attached to the Walker name. And honoring that name, and the people and community to which it’s attached is how she plans to spend her presidency.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity to be able to tell our story. And I’m really excited for the opportunity to do that,” she said. “But I just talk about the past. But to take that past and let’s talk about where we’re going.”

The Madam Walker Theater changed to the Madam Walker Legacy Center as another way to build on legacy. In that process, it’s kicking off a $15 million renovation that’s working to bring the location back to its former glory and more.

“It’s actually pretty inspiring. It’s been since 2018 when we first announced the restoration of the building. But I’m really excited that the city is excited, and that they are really wrapping their arms around the Legacy Center,” said Stricklen.

The pandemic has kept the theater closed to the public this year. But once it opens the guests will see renovated old and new spaces, as well as new programming for young people.

Stricklen said the center will need more than just memories to keep the Walker legacy alive and build on it.

“The Walker has meant so much to so many people in this community. But if we don’t support our organizations they won’t be here. So we’ve got to be able to do something besides get up in arms if we feel like it’s going away,” she said.

Stricklen said working to make the Madam Walker Legacy Center financially sustainable is going to be a major focus and they are looking at new proposals that may prove beneficial.

She takes office on April 19.