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Historic Green Book shows Indianapolis safe havens for Black travelers

The 500 block of Indiana Avenue was an area where African American travelers could safely stop for goods and services in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — Our Black History Month walking tour with Sampson Levingston took us to the 500 block of Indiana Avenue, highlighting specific locations found in The Green Book.

The Green Book, published from 1936-1967 provides a list of locations that were safe and provided services for African Americans traveling throughout the United States.

In this book, we found several black-owned businesses in the 500 block of Indiana Avenue that are noted as being a place for people of color to go and safely receive goods and services. From restaurants and hotels, to theaters and jazz clubs, you could find it all on Indiana Avenue!

And with this area serving as a central business district for Indy's African American community, it also became a central gathering place. Before Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, there was Indiana Avenue. That's where you went to be seen and connect with others.

Intersecting with Dr. Martin Luther King Street, today you'll find the Madam Walker Legacy Center, which originally was Madam C. J. Walker's Manufacturing Company, built in 1927. The block also features the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, along with property owned by IUPUI and office buildings.

Every day, Black history is all around us. History is right here in our community, right here in our backyard — only if you slow down enough to look.

This was just one stop on WTHR's Black history tour of Indianapolis. Tour guide Sampson Levingston led our anchor team around the city to teach them about the many historic sites that played integral roles in Indianapolis' Black community. Follow along through the month of February to learn about them. Click here to see the other tour stops.

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