The expo, which started last week, is drawing thousands to downtown Indianapolis. On Friday night, thousands went to the American Legion Mall for the first of two big concerts. They're just one part of the largest and longest-running African-American ...and more »
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (JULY 15, 2016) â€” The biggest weekend for the Indiana Black Expo is now underway.
The expo, which started last week, is drawing thousands to downtown Indianapolis. On Friday night, thousands went to the American Legion Mall for the first of two big concerts.
Theyâ€™re just one part of the largest and longest-running African-American cultural festival in the nation.
Some say with racial tension high, this is a good time to bring the community together. Activities for expo attendees range from health and job fairs to a youth leadership summit for black teens from across the state.
â€œFrom where I come from, thereâ€™s no African-American populace, so itâ€™s nice to get back, to my roots,â€ says Thomas Lowe of Chesterton, one of 300 black teens for the summit.
Organizer Ariel Crawley says Chesterton and the others are learning about STEM careers from Purdue alumni and preparing for lengthy conversations about race and social justice.
â€œWith just the recent events that have happened in the past two weeks, I think itâ€™s great that they have a voice and theyâ€™re able to speak to someone,â€ says Crawley.
Hailey Petersen says sheâ€™s hopeful theyâ€™ll discuss community issues affecting some of the young people at the summit.
â€œViolence has had a big impact here, in our community, like youth violence,â€ says Petersen. â€œI definitely donâ€™t want to be a part of that, so I really want to see that be changed and not see it as much.â€
The kids we spoke with say theyâ€™re taking advantage of the leaders theyâ€™re hearing from, learning how to bring change and civility to their communities.
â€œYou donâ€™t have to agree with someone on everything,â€ says Lowe. â€œThatâ€™s been established. But if you understand where somebodyâ€™s coming from, then there doesnâ€™t need to be any hostility between each other.â€
Down the street back at the mall, that kind of peaceful communication and open hearts were on full display.
From the stage, one minister called for prayer for the most recent victims of officer-involved shootings some say are more examples of police overreach.
At the same time, metro police mingled and chatted with the crowd, snapping selfies with expo concertgoers.
â€œIf people keep trying to make a difference, then I think thatâ€™s going to impact everything and soon everything will be better,â€ says Petersen.
The teens will continue learning at the youth leadership summit on Saturday, having some of those tough conversations and getting ready for college.
All other Black Expo events also run through Sunday.