African Americans in Indianapolis
The Story of a People Determined to Be Free
Published by: Indiana University Press
Indianapolis has long been steeped in important moments in African American history, from businesswoman Madame C. J. Walker's success to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan to the founding of Crispus Attucks High School, which remained segregated through the 1960s.
In African Americans in Indianapolis, author and historian David Leander Williams explores this history by examining the daunting and horrendous historical events African Americans living in Indianapolis encountered between 1820 and 1970, as well as the community's determination to overcome these challenges. Revealing many events that have yet to be recorded in history books, textbooks, or literature, Williams chronicles the lives and careers of many influential individuals and the organizations that worked tirelessly to open doors of opportunity to the entire African American community.
African Americans in Indianapolis serves as a reminder of the advancements that Black midwestern ancestors made toward freedom and equality, as well as the continual struggle against inequalities that must be overcome.
1. Indiana Becomes a State
2. Early Indianapolis
3. The Shame of Indianapolis
4. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
5. "Negroes, Yaw Go Back to Africa!"
6. The Civil War and Beyond
7. Post–Civil War Achievement
8. Power of the Fourth Estate
9. Dawn of the Struggle
10. The Twentieth Century—Going "Up South"
11. Francis "Frank" Flanner
12. White Policemen Murdered! Where's Jesse Coe?
13. The Indianapolis Recorder—Catalyst for Change—The Monster Meetings/Senate Avenue Y. M. C. A.
14. Madame C. J. Walker and Early African-American Female Trailblazers
15. The Roarin' Twenties!
16. David Curtis Stephenson and the Ku Klux Klan
17. Crispus Attucks High School
18. A Decade of Turmoil/Lockefield Gardens
19. Heroes and Sheroes of World War II
20. The 1950s
21. Entertainment Industry Flexes Its Muscle
22. The Black Community Battles Negative Stereotypes and Introduces Jazz and Poetry
23. Indiana Avenue Jazz Connection/MacArthur Conservatory of Music/The Exodus
24. Historic "Firsts" of the 1950s and Its Movers and Shakers
25. Urban Renewal or Negro Removal?
26. Woman of Valor
Once again, David is filling in the blank pages of a history that has been intentionally excluded, diluted, diminished. This book must be placed in libraries and classrooms throughout the city, state, and country so teachers, parents, and children—all children—will learn the authentic truth about the unrelenting trials and tribulations faced by a people who refused to allow systemic racism to break their spirit and dismantle their goals. The story of African Americans in Indianapolis during the period of 1820-1970 is but a microcosm of our story wherever we are or have been. Dr. John Henrik Clarke, noted professor and historian, tells us that 'to control a people you must first control what they think about themselves and how they regard their history and culture. And when your conqueror makes you ashamed of your culture and your history, he needs no prison walls and no chains to hold you.' David Leander Williams, we are so grateful that your brilliance was molded, shaped, and developed by the extraordinary professors at Crispus Attucks High School, and now it's being illuminated and used to benefit your people and all others whose lives this book will touch. The Ancestors are smiling.~Patricia Payne, Director, Racial Equity Office, Indianapolis Public Schools
The story of the Black experience in Indianapolis is one of hardship, triumph, and hope. As we continue to write that story, it's vital to know where we've been. David Leander Williams expertly explores and examines that rich history in his new book. As a native Hoosier and a proud Black man, I am continually inspired by our ancestors who helped build our city and make it a more just and equitable community. Mr. Williams is giving these heroes and sheroes the credit they are due, and for that I am grateful.~Representative Andre Carson, US Congressman, 7th District of Indiana
Without a doubt, David L. Williams has saved the day. For all of the people who have contributed stories about black life in Indianapolis, Mr. Williams has picked up the pieces and formed them into this deep perspective of African American history in the Hoosier capitol. Unlike other local histories, African Americans in Indianapolis pays homage to national, political and social issues that have affected Indianapolis. It is destined to become a staple not only on bookshelves in Indiana but on bookshelves of history lovers everywhere.~Stanley Warren, DePauw University