|Born||Freeman Briley Ransom
July 7, 1880
|Died||August 6, 1947
|Occupation||Lawyer, businessman, civic activist|
Freeman Briley Ransom (1880-1947) was born on his family's farm in Grenada, Mississippi as one of sixteen children. He became a lawyer, businessman, and civic activist practicing in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1910 until his death he served as legal council to Madame C. J. Walker and the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. He is buried in West Ridge Park Cemetery in Indianapolis.
After graduating from Grenada's black high school, Ransom graduated from Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1908 with degrees in divinity and law and as valedictorian of both classes. He completed post graduate work in the School of Law at Columbia University.
Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company
Soon after his move to Indianapolis, Ransom became not only Madame Walker's attorney but also the general manager for the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Under his leadership, the company became a national model for entrepreneurship in the United States and abroad in the African-American business community and far beyond.
Other Indianapolis clients and service
As the Walker Company grew in scale so did Ransom's stature in the city. He became the attorney for a number Indianapolis businesses and civic organizations, including:
- Senate Avenue YMCA
- Frederick Douglass Life Insurance Company
- Dr. E. N. Perkins Cream Float Soap Company
He also held a number of civic and elected positions including:
- Indianapolis City Councilman
- President of Flanner House
- State School for the Blind Trustee
- Democratic National Convention Alternate Delegate
- Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Trustee
- Legal consultant to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Madame Walker Theatre
On land purchased for $58,000 in 1924, Ransom worked alongside A'Lelia Walker to construct a building in honor of Madame Walker. They created the Walker Theatre to be a place to "serve as the social and cultural center of Indianapolis." The theatre opened its doors in on Monday, December 26, 1927.
Ransom and his family lived much of their life in Indianapolis near Indiana Avenue in what is now called the Ransom Place Historic District. The district was named for he and his family in 1992, and became the first African-American neighborhood in the state of Indiana to receive such distinction. The neighborhood, which was home to many important African American business leaders, remains the most intact 19th century neighborhood associated with African Americans in Indianapolis.
On the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, there is an apartment complex which bears the family name.
- "United States Census, 1880", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4GH-TJ2 : accessed 21 December 2015), Freeman Ransom in entry for Clem Ransom, 1880.
- "Freeman Briley "F.B." Ransom". Find A Grave. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
- Bundles, A'Lelia (2001). On Her Own Ground. Scribner. pp. 106–107. ISBN 0-684-82582-1.
- David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, ed. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Indiana University Press. p. 1165. ISBN 0-253-31222-1.
- Gibbs, edited by Wilma L.; Gloria J. Gibson-Hudson (1993). Indiana's African-American heritage : essays from Black history news & notes. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. p. 54. ISBN 0-87195-098-7.
- "Ransom Place Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
- "Ransom House". IUPUI. Retrieved 3 June 2012.