(Madam Walker Collection, Ind. Historical Society Library)
In celebration of Black History Month, The Indianapolis StarLibrary assembled this set of pages drawn from our coverage over the years.
Black Hoosier Firsts
The Underground Railroad
The town of Westfield, Ind., was founded by three Quaker families who had moved to Indiana from Virginia and North Carolina to escape the Southern economy that was built on slave labor. Their fledgling little town grew and soon became a regular station on the Underground Railroad.
Other stations have been identified in Merrillville and Fountain City.
(Conner Prairie Photo)
Mapping the trail of freedom
The Indiana Freedom Trails project will map as many known "stations" along the routes as possible and enter them into a database
The Roberts Settlement
In their day-to-day life and farming experience, the people of Roberts Settlement were unexceptional. What was exceptional was that they had economic opportunities unavailable to other African-Americans. They were free citizens, and the time was the 1800s.
The Indianapolis Recorder
Founded by George P. Stewart, a Vincennes High School graduate who studied printing in his brother Clarence's tiny shop, it grew from a small advertising publication known as the Directory to a full-sized newspaper.
The Recorder was a champion of equality, addressing issues such as public accommodations. It also spoke out against retailers who benefited from black patronage but wouldn't advertise in black newspapers.
Its alumni include William Raspberry, who began his career at The Recorder in the 1950s and later became a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post.
in the Civil War
More than 1,500 black Hoosiers fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. About 250 of them are buried at Crown Hill Cemetery, where they are remembered in an annual ceremony.
The Great Migration
Between 1910 and 1970, an estimated 6.5 million African-Americans left the South in search of freedom and opportunity in the North.
In a three-part series published in October, 2000, staff writer Abe Aamidor and staff photographer Mike Fender told the stories of a few of the thousands of migrants who came to Indianapolis during that time.
Heads are bowed in a tiny storefront when a brick suddenly crashes through a window, showering the congregation with glass. Fear-stricken worshipers seek cover.
Black churchesThe church has always played a major role in the African-American community, where it served social, political and cultural needs as well as religious ones. Ministers often also served as local civil rights leaders.
Thomas Shipp, Abram Smith, both 19, and 16-year-old James Cameron were being held on charges stemming from the slaying of Claude Deeter, 23, and the assault on Mary Ball, 19, of Marion.
Authorities said Deeter and Ball were in a car parked along a Marion road the night of Aug. 6 when three blacks drove up "in a dilapidated touring car," Deeter was shot four times and died the next day.
Shipp, Smith and Cameron were arrested at their homes the next morning.
When news of Deeter's death spread, a mob organized in Fairmount stormed the jail, beating down doors with sledgehammers and forcing their way into the suspects' cell.
Riot squads from nearby cities poured into Marion along with National Guardsmen from Kentucky, armed with machine guns and tear gas.
Shipp, Smith and Cameron were severely beaten and then dragged to the jail's courtyard. Smith "probably was dead before he was hanged," according to a Page One story inThe Indianapolis Star.
Ball's father "attempted to divert the mob by pleading with them not to carry out their plan," The Star reported.
Shipp and Smith had been hanged from the same tree when the woman's uncle shouted Cameron probably was innocent and should not meet the same fate.
As Cameron was taken back to his cell, mob members said Shipp's and Smith's bodies would hang until noon the next day "as a warning to other Negroes."
Cameron later served four years in prison after a jury convicted him of being an accessory to manslaughter. Reference materials used for this column do not state whether anyone was charged in the beatings and hangings.
Crispus Attucks High School 1927-1986
It was founded because of racism - a segregated high school to keep black students separate. But despite that intention, Crispus Attucks High School became a source of pride.
Named for a black man who was killed when he led an attack on British soldiers during a tax protest in the streets of Boston in March 1770, the school is remembered by some mainly for its championship basketball teams of the 1950s.
But those who attended Attucks in its heyday recall a demanding and talented faculty - many with advanced college degrees - that pushed students to be their best.
-- more on Crispus Attucks --
But the street on which Madame C.J. Walker's hair care and cosmetics firm had blossomed into a million-dollar enterprise would become a battle zone.