Walker Theatre celebration to recognize 95th year on historic Indiana Avenue

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Madam Walker’s theatre still stands tall on Indiana avenue even after 95 years. And a weekends worth of events will highlight the milestone, with Grammy winning artist and Indy native Babyface kicking things off.

The Walker Theatre opened eight years after Madam Walker’s death. And is the last remaining Black owned building from the Historic Indiana Ave today. Representatives say that her legacy runs strong and it’s important to hold onto that.

If you could reach into the foundation, you’ll find this building has 95 years of history to tell. Opened to create a safe entertainment space for Black Hoosiers, it remains a staple in the heart of town.

“Her vision came about because she was denied access to another theater. Without having to pay a black tax. And it was in that moment that she decided that she was going to build something for Black people,” said Kristian Stricklen, Walker Legacy Center president.

The entertainment acts that’s have passed through have helped shaped it’s legacy. From the Ella Fitzgerald and Wes Montgomery of the past to more modern acts like Mike Epps and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.

“Now with this being Black music month, and being able to highlight local Black artist and national artist, that are also from Indianapolis like Kenneth Babyface” Edmunds. It’s just an amazing time and opportunity,” said Stricklen.

The theater’s 95th celebration opens with a legacy ball and BabyFace concert. Rounding out the weekend with a series of community block parties and Fathers’ Day brunch.

“It is very important. Not just for Black history but for history Indiana. History as a whole,” Stricklen said. “That we A – know what we had here. And that we do whatever we can to preserve it.”

Although Stricklen is president now, she grew up knowing the Walker Theatre’s value from visiting and hearing stories from her grand mother. She’s now doing her part to keep the history alive.

“It is our ultimate goal as the Legacy Center to uplift her legacy.”

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