“History in school only shows one perspective. I want to change that in the classroom, and the best way for me to start, is by making the difference at home.”
With this being a newer downtown experience, I knew my own motivation as an educator for coming, but I was interested to hear from some of the other parents who brought had brought children of all ages along for the tour. This was the response from one parent, who was also an educator. Others echoed they wanted to learn more about their own history and the history of our city.
Through 2 Eyes Historical Walk
The experience I am referring to is that of the Though2Eyes historical WALK & TALK along Indiana Avenue, which covers some of the Black History that shaped the area. When I found out about the tour, I reached out to the organizer, Sampson Levingston, to ask if all content would be appropriate for children and he assured me that it was. With that knowledge, I purchased my ticket through the website, and made a plan to attend the next day with my children.
Two hours prior to the start of our tour, I received an e-mail from Through2Eyes, with a copy of the digital walking guide Sampson would be referencing throughout the tour. This made my “mom heart” and my “teacher heart” happy for a few reasons: I had a tiny blueprint and knew what to expect going into the tour, I would be able to print the resources, and I could refer back to them for teaching in the classroom or for homeschooling. (The slides are just for reference. You are welcome and encouraged to print them out in-advance of the tour, but if you can’t, don’t worry. Sampson has larger versions he will show case for everyone and refer to during the walk.)
Indianapolis Black History Walking Tour
We began our tour, in the parking lot of the Indianapolis Urban League (777 Indiana Avenue, Indianapolis). I was worried about getting there early enough to find parking, but I shouldn’t have been. You are free to park in the lot at the Indianapolis Urban League for the duration of the tour. Once everyone gathered and we had a moment of silence for Chris Beaty, we began our walk.
During the tour, Sampson talked about falling in love with history, because of the great teachers he had. Sampson said he loved history, but the history he was being taught wasn’t HIS history. He applied the same framework of learning applied in his classes, to his own independent study of the history that interested him and it has definitely paid off. Sampson’s passionate storytelling draws you in, and while the extent of his research is immediately apparent, you never feel like you are being lectured on the topic. A walk and talk with Sampson feels easy and relaxed, more like a chat with a friend.
Bringing Children on a Through2Eyes Tour
My son, who started out bringing up the caboose of the group, was quickly drawn in by Sampson’s narration and manner, finishing the tour right by his side, deeply engrossed. During the tour, we learned the history of Lockfield Gardens, the Senate Avenue YMCA, Sunset Terrace Ballroom, Bethel Church, Crispus Attucks High School, Ransom Place, Madam Walker, the Jazz Masters and The Recorder, which is the 4th oldest African American newspaper still running in the United States. Truth be told, I had sadly heard of fewer than half of the locations and events Sampson was describing. I learned more during this tour than I recall ever learning about Indiana history.
How Long Does the Through2Eyes Tour Last?
The duration of the tour is an hour and a half. You will walk a little over two miles.
What to Bring on the Through2Eyes Tour
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and an outfit that is breezy and breathable. We all brought water bottles and my youngest had a handheld battery-operated fan. In hindsight, I wish I would have brought a cooling towel for her, as the heat zapped her quickly and she was asking for a piggyback ride right out of the gate. On sunny days, be sure to wear sunblock and sunglasses and maybe even a hat.
Is the tour stroller or wagon friendly?
Most of the tour is considered stroller friendly, with my only hesitation being a slightly steep hill you walk down to get to the canal at one point. The littlest walkers we had on the tour got down without difficulty and it is feasible for a stroller to get down- you just might need assistance and a little extra caution for that one part.
Tickets for the Through2Eyes Tour
Tickets for the Through2Eyes Walk & Talk are $20 each. Children 12 and under are FREE. The tickets are currently offered on the Through2Eyes website, through Eventbrite, which adds an additional $2.85 processing fee to your order.
The current schedule includes a Walk & Talk on July 3rd at 7pm and on July 5 at 5 pm. The July 5 walk is supported by the PACE (Positive Action for Committee for Equality) Fitness Academy, and rumor has it, there will be at least one member of the Indianapolis Colts and Indianapolis Fever in attendance.
Additional options: Sampson intends to continue offering the Indiana Avenue tour every Wednesday and Saturday, so be sure to check Through2Eyes.com or follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the current schedule. I also highly recommend checking out Sampson’s blog and the historical videos section, as they both include a wealth of knowledge outside of the tour.
The Future of Through2Eyes Walk & Talk
When I was speaking with Sampson about the future of the tour, he told me while the Indiana Avenue tour focuses on Black history, he is planning a second tour focusing on Women’s History to take place in Irvington, starting late July/early August. I cannot wait to join him for that one, and any future tours he offers.