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Irvington Names Village Hall Plaza After Madam C. J. Walker

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March 1, 2023

By Barrett Seaman–

On the last day of February, a goodly crowd of more than 70 crammed into the foyer of Irvington Town Hall and later on the plaza outside to unveil the plaque naming the square Madam C. J. Walker Plaza. Present for the occasion were local politicians and A’Lelia Bundles, the great-great granddaughter of Ms. Walker, the first woman millionaire in America.

Mayor Brian C. Smith declared “There couldn’t be a more appropriate time—today is the last day of Black History Month; tomorrow is the first day of Women’s History Month.”

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David Imamura, who would later that evening celebrate his uncontested election as County Legislator for the 12th District, predicted that Madam Walker “would no longer be a footnote” in the village’s history. Trustee Arlene Burgos observed: “Who we name our streets and buildings after really matters. It reflects our values.”

Indeed, the plaza on the village’s Main Street has become a rallying point for social justice causes—drawing people not only from Irvington, as Mayor Smith noted, “but from all over Westchester.”

Following the speeches, prayers and a solo rendition of the spiritual “This Little Light of Mine” by the Reverend Dr. Frozine Reece-Smith, the group reassembled outside as Smith and Ms. Bundles unveiled the plaque that read simply, “Madam C. J. Walker Plaza.”

The portrait of Madam C. J. Walker

Not a week earlier, the Doley Foundation announced that the official portrait of Madam Walker would hang in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The portrait had been in Villa Lewaro, Madam Walker’s Irvington estate, when Ambassador Harold E. Doley Jr. and his wife Helena bought the mansion in 1993. When they sold the estate to entrepreneur Richelieu Dennis in 2018, the Doleys donated the portrait to the Smithsonian.

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