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Madam Walker Legacy Center preparing for 41st annual MLK Day of Celebration

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. More than 50 years after his assassination, his messages of social justice and equality continue to echo around the country.

To honor this civil rights icon, the Madam Walker Legacy Center in Indianapolis is gearing up for its 41st Annual MLK Day of Celebration at the Madam Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue.

For the first time in three years, the Madam Walker Legacy Foundation is opening the event to the public. During the coronavirus pandemic, the event was done virtually.

The MLK Day of Celebration is a free, family-friendly event. Doors open at 11 a.m. Monday and the celebration will begin at noon.

Tamika D. Mallory, a well-known social justice leader, will have a one-on-one discussion with Kristian Stricklen, the president of the Madam Walker Legacy Center. Mallory served as the youngest-ever executive director of the National Action Network and helped organize the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.

“It’s a teaching event, in a way. We want to bring awareness to social justice. This is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for. He wanted to make sure that we were always equal, and he continued to push forward that message. We are continuing his message in 2023,” Stricklen said.

Congressman André Carson and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett are expected to join Mallory and Stricklen at the celebration.

Madam C.J. Walker was a trailblazing Black businesswoman who established the headquarters for the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company on West Street in Indianapolis in 1910. She made her fortune selling cosmetics and hair care products for Black women. Walker’s haircare products were eventually discontinued, but a new line of products bearing her name hit store shelves last year.

The Madam Walker Theatre, named in her honor, celebrated its 95th anniversary in December. It’s the only Black-owned building on Indiana Avenue from the 1920s that still exists today.

How to attend

Although the celebration is free, registration is required. As of 6 a.m. Thursday, only a few seats remain. Visit the Madam Walker Legacy Center’s Eventbrite page to reserve a spot.

Guests can park for free in the lots on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street or St. Clair Street, but drivers should expect possible backups or delays due to construction on Indiana Avenue.

MLK Day of Celebration flyer. (Provided Photo/Madam Walker Legacy Center)