IBJ Podcast: Groundbreaking history of African Americans in Indy debuts

Keywords Diversity / Podcast

Entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker. International sports star Marshall “Major” Taylor. The Indiana Avenue commercial and entertainment district. Crispus Attucks High School. The foundations and luminaries of Black history in Indianapolis have received due attention in recent decades and have been the subjects of books and documentaries. But there hasn’t been an authoritative history of African Americans in Indianapolis—featuring the highlights as well as the crushing obstacles thrown in the path of the Black community—until this month.

Historian David Leander Williams has built on his previous works documenting the city’s jazz and rhythm-and-blues legacies with “African Americans in Indianapolis: The Story of a People Determined to Be Free,” published by Indiana University Press. It covers the 150-year period between 1820 and 1970—from the establishment of the Black community on the banks of the White River after a ruinous flood and malaria epidemic to the destruction of core Black neighborhoods downtown due to the construction of Interstate 65 and the expansion of IUPUI.

In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, Williams discusses his personal connections to some of the key figures and places in the Black community, including jazz legend Wes Montgomery, the Bethel AME Church and Crispus Attucks High School. He also explains the clever ways he was able to reconstruct Black life in the city’s first decades, when record keeping was rare. And he pinpoints the ways the Black community has been set back economically, including the loss of thousands upon thousands of jobs in the city’s manufacturing sector that once served as passports to the middle class.

Click here to find the IBJ Podcast each Monday. You can also subscribe at iTunes, Google Play, Tune In, Spotify and anyplace you find podcasts. Here are some of our recent episodes:

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IBJ Podcast: Tom Griswold isn’t ready to pass the torch on ‘The Bob & Tom Show’

IBJ Podcast: How the sale of Christel DeHaan’s estate could expand her legacy

IBJ Podcast: What’s the ultimate value for Indy of hosting the college football championship?

Looking for another podcast to try? Check out IBJ’s The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman, a monthly discussion about diversity and inclusion in central Indiana’s business community.

Looking for another podcast to try? Check out IBJ’s The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman, a monthly discussion about diversity and inclusion in central Indiana’s business community.

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