(July 7, 1884-Aug. 6, 1947). Born in Grenada, Mississippi, Ransom graduated from the law department of Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1908 and took postgraduate work in the School of Law at Columbia University.

Ransom sits in a chair at a desk.
Freeman Briley Ransom in his office at the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, ca. 1915 Credit: Madam C.J. Walker Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

Following his move to Indianapolis in 1910, Ransom’s future became entwined with that of Madam C. J. Walker. He became the attorney and later the general manager for the Madam C. J. Walker Company, which manufactured and distributed hair care products primarily for the black population. Under Ransom’s leadership, the company set a national standard of entrepreneurship in the African American business community.

As the Walker Company grew in importance, so did Ransom’s influence. He became the attorney for several Indianapolis businesses and civic organizations, including the Senate Avenue Ymca, Dr. E. N. Perkins Cream Float Soap Company, and the Frederick Douglass Life Insurance Company. He was a city councilman, alternate delegate to the Democratic national convention, and a trustee of the Indiana School For The Blind and the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was also heavily involved with Flanner House and the Phyllis Wheatley Ywca.

Ransom became acquainted with William Pickens, field secretary of the national-association-for-the-advancement-of-colored-people-naacp and director of its branches, and he was often consulted by national officers when questions arose about racism and segregation in the Midwest in general as well as Indiana in particular. Pickens and other African American leaders frequently stayed in the Ransom home when they had occasion to visit Indianapolis.

Later in life, Ransom assisted Walker’s daughter in bringing the Madam C. J. Walker Theatre (see madam walker legacy center) to fruition in the 1920s. The neighborhood that Ransom lived in with his family during his time in Indianapolis was designated the Ransom Place Historic District in 1992.

Revised February 2021

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