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Indiana Historical Society using Madam C.J. Walker Barbie to celebrate legacy

The Indiana Historical Society has several of the Barbie dolls honoring Madam C.J. Walker. Here's how you can get one for yourself.

INDIANAPOLIS — One of Indianapolis' most famous former residents, Madam C.J. Walker, may soon be sitting under many a Hoosier Christmas tree this holiday season.

"We're so excited about it and I can't think of anyone more deserving than Madam C.J. Walker," said Jody Blankenship, president and CEO of the Indiana Historical Society.

As part of its Inspiring Women Collection, Mattel has created a Madam C.J. Walker Barbie to honor the first female self-made millionaire. And now, it's available at the Indiana Historical Society. 

"We got a bunch of them when they first came out, so we worked directly with Mattel because of A'lelia Bundles, who is a great supporter of ours and Madam C.J. Walker's great-great-granddaughter, and she helped us acquire a number of these daughters. So we've had them since they came out and we're excited to make them available," Blankenship said. 

Blankenship said the doll is helping to highlight Walker's impressive contributions in establishing a hair empire more than a century ago.

"I think Madam C.J. Walker's important for a number of reasons, obviously it's her business acumen, she was a heck of a businessperson," he said. But beyond that, Blankenship said Walker's legacy in giving back to the African American community and to others here in Indianapolis has left a lasting legacy of bettering others.

Credit: Madam C.J. Walker Collection, Indiana Historical Society
Madam C.J. Walker

"But it's also because of her interests in civil rights," Blankenship said. "She was a big civil rights advocate, she worked with some of the biggest names in civil rights at the time to promote equity and inclusion and access. And then also, her emphasis on giving back to the community. She not only made a lot of money and empowered a lot of women by giving them jobs and economic opportunity but then she took a lot of her profits and put them back into the community to share that wealth with the broader community."

The Indiana Historical Society houses many of Madam C.J. Walker's business records, correspondence and historic photos, preserving the trailblazer's mark in history.

With dozens of these new dolls on hand, Blankenship said that in honor of Madam C.J. Walker's 155th birthday and for a donation of $155 that will go toward helping preserve her records at IHS, they're giving out the Walker Barbie doll.

"We think it's a great opportunity to give something back that's unique to Indianapolis and is being shared all over the country, but also to help contribute to preserving this important Indiana and Indianapolis story," Blankenship said. 

Credit: WTHR
A new Barbie doll celebrates the life of Madam C.J. Walker.

Those dolls are going fast, he said, and with good reason. With every donation for the dolls going toward preserving Walker's historic past, its ensuring her legacy will live on in Indianapolis for future generations to come. 

For more information on the virtual exhibit of Madam C.J. Walker's exhibit at IHS or to find out how to get a doll, visit the Indiana Historical Society's website.

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