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A'Lelia Walker (June 6, 1885 – August 17, 1931) was an American businesswoman and patron of the arts. She was the daughter and only child of Madam C.J. Walker, popularly credited as being the first Black self-made millionaire in the United States.
During the 1920s she had many painters, sculptors, writers, musicians, and actors of the Harlem Renaissance at "The Dark Tower," which was part literary gathering place, part nightclub. It was a converted floor of her 136th Street townhouse near Lenox Avenue that was designed by Paul Frankl (Langston Hughes, "The Big Sea" ). She also entertained at Villa Lewaro, her country house in Westchester County and at her pied-a-terre at 80 Edgecomb Avenue in Harlem.
Villa Lewaro was named for Walker (LElia WAlker RObinson) after Italian tenor Enrico Caruso said to her mother that the newly built Irvington-on-Hudson mansion reminded him of the houses of his native country.
Walker was a patron of the arts who, despite her impoverished childhood, was surrounded by accomplished African American musicians and developed an early love of classical music and opera. She grew up in the neighborhood where Scott Joplin and other ragtime musicians gathered at Tom Turpin's Rosebud Cafe on St. Louis's Market Street.
She married 3 times: to John Robinson, a hotel waiter, whom she divorced in 1914; to Dr. Wiley Wilson in 1919; and to Dr. James Arthur Kennedy, in 1926, whom she divorced just a few months before her death in 1931.
She had no biological children, but in 1912 she adopted Fairy Mae Bryant (1898–1945), who became known as Mae Walker, who traveled with Madam C. J. Walker as a model and assistant. In November 1923, A'Lelia Walker orchestrated an elaborate "Million Dollar Wedding" for Mae's marriage to Dr. Gordon Jackson. Mae Walker, a graduate of Spelman Seminary in Atlanta, divorced Jackson in 1926 and married Attorney Marion R. Perry in September 1927.
Life and legacy
A'Lelia Walker died on August 17, 1931 of a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by hypertension, the same ailment that led to her mother's death in 1919. She was surrounded by friends who had traveled to Long Branch, New Jersey to celebrate a friend's birthday party with lobster and champagne in the midst of the Great Depression and Prohibition.
Thousands of Harlemites lined up to view her body. As her casket was lowered into the ground next to her mother's grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, Hubert Julian—the celebrated "Black Eagle"—flew over in a small plane and dropped dahlias and gladiolas onto the site.
A'Lelia Walker traveled extensively throughout the United States as well as to Cuba and Panama. From November 1921 to May 1922, she visited Paris, London (where she visited Covent Garden), Rome (where she witnessed a papal coronation), Monte Carlo, Cairo, Jerusalem and Addis Ababa (where she met Empress Zauditu.)
Madam C.J. Walker Building in Indianapolis
Walker Company sales began to suffer in 1929, with the beginning of the Great Depression. Increased expenses associated with a new million dollar headquarters and manufacturing facility opened in late 1927 in Indianapolis, Indiana, placed additional financial pressure on the operation. Today the building is known as the Madam Walker Theatre Center and is a National Historic Landmark.
Mae Walker was president of the company from 1931 until her death in 1945. Mae's daughter, A'Lelia Mae Perry Bundles (1928–1976), succeeded her mother as president of the company. A'Lelia Mae Perry Bundles's daughter, A'Lelia Bundles, (1952- ) is an author and journalist as well as Madam Walker's biographer.
The Madam C. J. Walker Company moved from the building in 1985 and the trustees of the Walker estate transferred the building to a non-profit group called the Madam Walker Urban Life Center. Today the building houses a cultural arts organization, is the anchor of the Indiana Avenue Cultural District and is known as the Madame Walker Theatre Center. Its current  president is Jacqueline Morson.
- U. S. Census 1910
- City of Long Branch Death Certificate
- "Royalty and Blue-blooded Gentry Entertained by A'Lelia Walker at Lewaro and Townhouse, Amsterdam News, August 26, 1931, p. 1
- A'Lelia Bundles, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker (Scribner/Lisa Drew Books, 2001)
- "Social Security Death Index [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. 2009. Archived from the original on 5 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
- "Madam C.J. Walker, Beauty products entrepreneur; local philanthropist", The Indianapolis Star, January 22, 2001.
- "2012 - 2013 Board of Directors". 2009. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- http://www.madamcjwalker.com/bio_alelia_walker.aspx A'Lelia Walker Bio[dead link]
- http://www.madamcjwalker.com/ Madam C.J. Walker Official Website A'Lelia Walker Biographical Information