The Walker Theatre was built during the 1920s and is named after the first self-made woman millionaire in the United States and Walker’s Legacy namesake, Madam C.J. Walker. The project recently received a grant from Lilly Endowment, an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation, that is being used to make a number of new changes that will modernize and refurbish the theatre.
The renovations also comes with the support of a new partnership with Indiana University-Purdue that allows University students to attend classes, seminars, and a speaker series in the historic building.
Madam Walker is revered as one of the country’s most celebrated and influential businesswomen, philanthropists, civil rights leader, and education advocate. The first child in her family to be born in freedom, Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in Louisiana and began her career as a domestic worker before moving to St. Louis, MO, learning more about hair care, and establishing what we know today as one of the most successful women-owned businesses to date.
Walker went on to develop and relocate her successful business to Indianapolis where she established its headquarters and hair care production factory in 1910.
“Before Oprah, before me, before you, there was Madam C.J. Walker” Joyce Rogers, Board Chairwoman of the Walker Theatre Board
“She has a footprint right here in our own community that we have a responsibility to maintain.”
A known beneficiary, Walker raised and donated funds that supported entities that served as resources for the Black community including in the Black community including the Tuskegee Institute, Indianapolis’ Flanner House, and what’s known today as Bethune-Cookman University
Work on the 91-year-old structure is expected to begin in Summer 2018 to be on-target for a 2019 completion. More on Madam C.J. Walker can be read in the biography outlining her entrepreneurial journey, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker