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Community Link: The ‘her-story’ of the Madam Walker Legacy Center

Community Link: The ‘Her-story’ of the Madam Walker Legacy Center

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Each week on Community Link, Carolene Mays takes a look at an organization or business that is making a positive impact on the community.

With a mission to inspire, engage, and empower, the Madam Walker Legacy Center engages diverse audiences and promotes creativity.

This week, Mays was joined by Kristian Little Stricklen, the president of the Madam Walker Legacy Center.

Stricklen first shares a brief history, or “her-story,” of Madam Walker, the world’s first self-made millionaire who amassed her well-earned wealth in Indianapolis after relocating to the city to distribute her hair products.

She adds that Walker was the first donor of the Senate YMCA, the first Black YMCA in Indy, and supported the Bethune-Cookman College.

“Her legacy is so much more than hair care,” Stricklen said. “She was not an artist, but enjoyed the arts. She tried to go to another movie theater here in Indianapolis, and she was charged a ‘Black tax,’ which she refused to pay. She sued, she won, and she also, in that moment, decided it was time for us to have a place of our own.”

Stricklin says the Legacy Center building and theater came as part of the mission to promote diversity and give Black people a place of their own.

After several name changes, the center was given its current name to uplift and preserve “all of her legacy” in Indianapolis.

“We want to uplift the fact that yes, she was an entrepreneur. Yes, she enjoyed the arts. Yes, she was also a philanthropist. And she does a lot for women,” Stricklin said.

She also explains how their work in diversity and creativity has changed over the years, and discusses the the center’s four-pillar strategy plan.

To learn more, watch the full interview above.