February 15, 2023
VINCENNES, Ind. - The Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy invites visitors to explore the stories of Black Hoosiers who broke ground for their community and paved a path for future generations while making contributions to Indiana. Exhibits and events will include a traveling exhibit from the Indiana Historical Society. The exhibit, "Groundbreaking Black Hoosiers," will be open to the public, Feb. 28 - March 26, 2023, during regular museum hours at the Red Skelton Museum, 20 Red Skelton Blvd. located on the Vincennes University Campus.
In addition to the Indiana Historical Society exhibit, the Red Skelton Museum is showcasing “Red Skelton's Groundbreaking Black Entertainers” from Feb. 14 - April 2, 2023, which presents the history of black entertainment by way of Red Skelton's stage, movie, and television career. Red Skelton appeared with many groundbreaking black entertainers from his early-stage years to his television show. They included: Bill Robinson, Mills Brothers, Leana Horne, Mahalia Jackson, the Supremes, and others. Movie clips and photos from the television archives are on display.
The Red Skelton Museum will offer free admission on Sunday, March 5, and will host a special program on Groundbreaking Black Citizens in Knox County from 1-3 p.m.
Although the stories in "Groundbreaking Black Hoosiers" are far from an encyclopedic look at Black excellence or accomplishment, they present a compelling example of the important role Black people have played in Hoosier history, a role that has too often been erased.
Here is a glimpse at some of the people highlighted in this exhibit:
- Wilma Gibbs Moore, a historian at the Indiana Historical Society who worked to save the stories of Black Hoosiers from disappearing.
- Mary Bateman Clark, who sued for her freedom from indentured servitude, the way for some Hoosiers to get around slavery laws.
- Madam C.J. Walker, a successful businesswoman who fought for racial equality and access to beauty in early 20th-century Indianapolis.
- Second Lieutenant Aaron R. Fisher, the most decorated Black WWI veteran in Indiana.
- Doctor Henry Hummons, who started a free clinic for Black Hoosiers at Flanner House to help combat medical disparities during the fight against tuberculosis.
- William Wilson Cooke, an architect who fought racism in banking in Gary to help build needed buildings for the burgeoning Black community there.
"Groundbreaking Black Hoosiers" is made possible by a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
For more information or to plan your visit, call 812-888-4184 or visit RedSkeltonMuseum.org. The museum will have special episodes on YouTube featuring black entertainers every Tuesday. Go to the Red Skelton Museum site on YouTube or find the link on the museum's Facebook page.
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