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Celebrating 40 Years of Excellence!

1969 - 2009

The Price of Progress

IUPUI, The Color Line, and Urban Displacement

The Price of Progress: IUPUI, The Color Line, and Urban Displacement

Indianapolis' near-Westside was home to numerous European immigrants and African Americans from the nineteenth century onward. In the early twentieth century, many African American families began to settle along Indiana Avenue and in the neighborhoods where IUPUI sits today, and like other American cities the near-Westside became segregated along the color line. The predominately African-American near-Westside became "the" place for Blacks to pursue and create their slice of the American Dream. The neighborhood remained for more than 50 years until it was displaced by urban renewal projects that created space for state government expansion, the Interstate, and IUPUI.

This project is a compilation of elders' memories that focuses on the central features of life in the near-Westside along and across the color line, examining dimensions of African-American life ranging from faith to schooling to leisure and entrepreneurship. Indiana Avenue was the main corridor slicing through the near-Westside and it soon became a microcosm of the New York City's storied Harlem with its many businesses, churches, social institutions and jazz clubs. Completion of the Walker Building in 1927 brought additional prominence to the area: it housed Madam C.J. Walker's manufacturing company and a theatre that attracted national artists and performers. The year 1927 also saw the opening of Crispus Attucks High School and the ushering-in of an era of school segregation that had far-reaching implications for the area.

Told in the words of elders, the book examines residents' sentiments about African-American Indianapolis and the community's displacement after World War II. The project aspires to celebrate the rich African-American community that called the near-Westside home for nearly a century and reflect upon how that community was transformed by urban renewal. The elders' memories should provide the beginnings of a critical and reflective public discussion in which the community can acknowledge the vibrant African-American heritage of the near-Westside and publicly examine IUPUI's role in urban renewal.

As part of the 40th Anniversary Celebration this publication is made possible. A limited number of copies will be printed and distributed for free.

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