The Black Legacy Project – Butler Tarkington

IMM photo

On October 23, Midtown Indy along with neighborhood leaders and guests, celebrated the dedication of an art installation on the historic Concord Building, 3802 N. Illinois, depicting accomplished individuals from the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood.

The Black Legacy Project – Butler Tarkington involved nearly three years of collaboration between Midtown Indy executive director Michael McKillip and curator Sabae Martin, a long-time Butler Tarkington resident and Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association board member. They teamed up with designer Wil Marquez, owner of w/purpose design, who crafted graphics of physician Harvey Middleton, Rep. Hariette Conn, and Dr. George Rawls and others as well as inspirational quotes from local luminaries such as jazz musician Wes Montgomery, poet Mari Evans, and Rep. Julia Carson.

The installation adorns the second floor windows of the Concord Building, which Midtown Indy owns. “The Concord Building has borne witness at 38th and Illinois in our community for nearly a century. It has served as a place for gathering. Along the way it has witnessed many triumphs and challenges and now will help us tell the stories of those whose triumphs came despite great adversity,” says McKillip.

“Collaborative design can help cities heal,” Marquez said during the dedication ceremony held in the building’s parking lot. In her brief remarks, Martin called the collaboration, “A labor of love,” that combats cultural amnesia. “What we see on the nightly news about this neighborhood is not what it’s about,” she said, adding, “This installation brings the best part of the past together so we can see what is possible.”

In sharing the images and words of neighbors who overcame structural racist practices like redlining and Jim Crow, Martin observed that the individuals depicted in the display who persevered and thrived represented, “the greatness of the community.”

The installation is intentionally forward looking and includes images of young people in the neighborhood who aspire to work in the fields of journalism, sports, and business.