Madam C. J. Walker was honored in the inaugural class of Hoosier Legacy Award nominees with a memorial on Georgia Street in Indianapolis on March 2.
Descendants of several of the ten iconic Hoosiers joined Mayor Greg Ballard as he unveiled the seven-foot-tall pillars in the plaza that had hosted the 2012 Super Bowl Village a few weeks earlier.
Madam Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, presented remarks on behalf of the families. “As I pondered the lives of these great Hoosiers,” she told the audience, “I couldn’t help but imagine them all seated together at a magnificent banquet. What would Madam Walker–a pioneer of the modern hair care and cosmetics industries–have to say to Eli Lilly–a pioneer of the modern pharmaceutical industry–about building a business?”
Other honorees–whose lives spanned two centuries from 1768 to 1968–are Pulitzer Prize winners Booth Tarkington and Ernie Pyle, Ben-Hur author Lew Wallace, Grammy Award winner Wes Montgomery, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Harrison, suffragette May Wright Sewall and native American leader Tecumseh. The selections were made by a panel convened by the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, a civic organization chaired by attorney Deborah Daniels.
Among the descendants and family friends who attended were Robert Montgomery, son of jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery; Ted and and Anita Sewall, representing the May Wright Sewall family; Lance Bundles, great-great-grandson of Madam Walker; and Judith Ransom-Lewis and Robert Ransom, grandchildren of Walker Company attorney F. B. Ransom.