INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis’ Near Southside was home to a diverse community of African Americans and Sephardic Jews who lived together before the construction of I-70. Their tale is one of family and community interacting at levels often unheard of in today’s times.
A new pop-up exhibit, “Split but Not Separated: Recapturing the Legacy of the Near Southside,” opens at the Concord Neighborhood Center on Sunday, April 27, and focuses on the co-existence of the two communities in this Indianapolis neighborhood. An opening reception takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. April 27 at the Concord Neighborhood Center, 1310 S. Meridian St.
The exhibit was developed by undergraduate students enrolled in the spring 2014 Museum Methods class, part of the museum studies program in the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The students conducted research and curated materials associated with the history of the community.
During the opening reception, Modupe Labode, assistant professor of history and museum studies in the School of Liberal Arts, will moderate a discussion with the students about the project. The talk begins at 2:30 p.m.
The pop-up exhibition was inspired by a 2010 research project by IUPUI anthropology students. They collected oral histories, photographs and other memorabilia from African American and Jewish elders who had grown up together on the Near Southside. The research was published in the 2013 oral history book, “The Neighborhood of Saturdays” (Dog Ear Press). The exhibit presents another view of the history of the community and moves the story into the future by involving middle-school children currently participating in programs at the Concord Neighborhood Center.
The middle-school children used “The Neighborhood of Saturdays” as a starting point to think about their own ideas of community and about the history of the area. They met with elders from the neighborhood for a question-and-answer session about growing up on the streets adjacent to the Concord Center. The children’s work will be highlighted in the exhibition.
The exhibit will remain at the Concord Center for three weeks, after which time it will be shown at South Calvary Missionary Baptist Church on the Near Southside. It will then move to Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation on Hoover Road, where many members of the Jewish community settled after they left the Near Southside in the 1950s and ’60s.