Indianapolis' Black Expo
Summer Celebration remembers 50th anniversary of historic Selma march
Jul 7, 2015
Photographs of the historic march for Civil Rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, are among the highlights of the 45th Annual Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration, which begins July 9 in downtown Indianapolis.
The event is a celebration of African-American culture, and features business, health and education workshops and a youth leadership summit, along with gospel and rhythm and blues performers, a fashion show, and a slam-dunk contest.
The exhibition of the Selma prints - shown on the 50th anniversary of the march - are particularly significant, according to Tanya Bell, president and CEO of Indiana Black Expo, because they, "allow us to take in and reflect on our history and how far we've come, but at the same time, we know we still have a long road to travel."
The images were taken by Stephen Somerstein and were included in a national tour. They feature key players in the fight for voting rights such as Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, Sr., James Baldwin, Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, Clarence Williams, Cleveland Robinson, Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, John Lewis, Juanita Abernathy, Ralph Abernathy, and more.
Attendees will be able to bid on the prints, and Expo will donate all of the proceeds to its Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to Hoosier undergraduate students and high school seniors.
Another new attraction this year is Reggie Wayne Weekend, which will be held July 17-18. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is presenting Wayne with the key to the city on July 16.
Bell said it is important to pay tribute to Wayne, who played with the Indianapolis Colts until 2014.
“It's personal to us. [Wayne] is known for his activism, but he has always partnered with Indiana Black Expo to give back to the community." There will also be a Wayne Memorabilia Exhibit and a place for attendees to write letters to Wayne, thanking him for his support.
One significant change this year, Bell said, is that one weekend day - July19 - will be free admission. “[IBE is] that pillar in the community. This is a fund-raiser, but we have to keep our events affordable."
Other events and activities include a Cultural Arts Gallery and a three-day Youth Leadership Summit for middle and high school age students who are interested in advocacy and education in their communities.
Although Black Expo offers musical performances every year, the lineup is always different. This year’s Summer Celebration will end when Grammy award winner Patti LaBelle steps to the mic to close the annual Music Heritage Festival series.
The Music Heritage Festival will kick off with a free outdoor festival at the American Legion Mall Friday, July 17, headlined by platinum R&B artists Black Street, Al Hudson and One Way and The Original Lakeside, according to indianablackexpo.com.
Black Street made a splash in the R&B scene with the release of “No Diggity,” featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. The song topped the pop charts for four weeks and skyrocketed the group to platinum status.
The festival will finish up with performances by the oft-called Godmother of Soul Patti LaBelle, The Isley Brothers and El Debarge performing at Bankers Life Field House Saturday, July 18. Tickets are available at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, indianablackexpo.com and TicketMaster.com for $40, $65 and $75.
Grammy winner Patti LaBelle began her career as part of the Ordettes in 1959, which later became the Bluebelles.
Although the group found moderate success in the mid 1960’s - their song “Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song)” even becoming a top 40 hit - it wasn’t until LaBelle struck out on her own that she hit it big with her first number one hit, “On My Own.”
In 1991 LaBelle released her album “Burnin’” which made its way to gold status and earned the singer her first Grammy Award. In 1993 she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
LaBelle was again honored in 2009 when she was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.
Summer Celebration runs through July 19 at the Indiana Convention Center and other nearby locations. For a complete list of activities, go to indianablackexpo.com