Re-presenting the Peace Walk: Booker T. Washington and His Presence in Indiana

Reed Meece Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Faculty Sponsor(s): Owen J. Dwyer Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Modupe G. Labode Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
After the emancipation of slaves in the American South, Dr. Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915) dedicated his life to a message of African American “racial uplift.” Washington went to school, faced numerous struggles, and completed many years of work until he created the cornerstone of his legacy: the Tuskegee Institute in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. From this, Washington set out to achieve African American economic equality, which he assured would later result in political or civic equity. This platform led to him becoming a famous American figure later in his life. However, Washington has been forgotten as a significant historical figure. This is illustrated by the fact that few monuments to Washington exist. Despite that, the Indianapolis Peace Walk houses a monument dedicated to Washington which marginalizes his Indianapolis based political clout, and instead focuses on his efforts at Tuskegee. It was this representation of Washington—one of the only two African American individuals immortalized on the Peace Walk—that sparked this research into the local history around him. Furthermore, this research revealed a rich history of Indianapolis’ African American community that was forgotten. Data collection for this interdisciplinary research project consisted of examining Indianapolis’ historical newspapers such as the Recorder, News, and Journal to examine Washington’s historical impact on Indianapolis during his seven visits. Moreover, I examined how his history, and Indianapolis’ collective African American history, was marginalized within this monument. Additionally, I comparatively examined the history he had in Indianapolis and the monument’s historical recollection of him.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

02:00 PM
Jordan Hall 238