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Reviving a Forgotten Freetown: The Lives and Legacies of the US Colored Troops in Southeast Indianapolis

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

5:30-6:30 PM

Founded officially in 1872, Norwood is a Reconstruction Era settlement outside the boundaries of Indianapolis. Norwood’s founders were African American veterans from Kentucky because of their service beside the  Indiana 28th Regiment during the last years of the Civil War. Norwood and its partner community Barrington sat as stable, independent Freetowns until they were annexed into Indianapolis in 1912. Using these oral histories and family archives, we have reconstructed the story of the Southeast side of Indianapolis from the perspective of the USCT that first called it home. These stories have been left out of the dominant narratives of our culture and have only been revived through the voices of their descendants. 

Presenter Kaila Austin (she/her) is an artist, public historian and community activist from Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2019, she began Rogue Preservation Services, a historic consulting firm, to work with underserved communities to help them mobilize their histories to protect their ancestral spaces. Since 2021, she has been working with six Reconstruction Era communities on the Southeast side of Indianapolis founded by the US Colored Troops:  Norwood, Barrington, Hosbrook, Babe Denny, Bean Creek and Zuniville. 

Image: ”Opening Celebration at Penick Chapel AME Zion Church, Norwood, Indianapolis (1915)” from the Collection of Ms Flinora Frazier, Southside USCT Coalition.

This program was made possible with the support of Indiana Humanities. 

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