For 43 years, Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration has been a staple of summertime in Indianapolis. Throughout the years, thousands of people have enjoyed the annual event and have created memories that will last a lifetime.
For state Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, her favorite Summer Celebration memory stems from the moment when former President George W. Bush kissed Congresswoman Julia Carson, D-Indiana, on the cheek.
“Julia Carson was such a rabid Democrat and very outspoken, and probably very outspoken on George Bush. President Bush, of course, was a rabid Republican from the South and here they are both merged at this Black Expo luncheon and they’re bantering back and forth with one another and all of a sudden, George Bush plants a huge kiss on Mrs. Carson’s face. Her response was just delightful.”
Dennis Bland, the president of the Center for Leadership Development said his favorite memory is the spirit that existed during past Summer Celebrations.
“My absolute favorite memory … and what stays with me is that back in the day more so, the kind of spirit of community and comraderie that seemed to come with the arrival of Expo and specifically there is a memory of a song. The lyrics of which went something like ‘blood is thicker than water.’”
Charlotte Hawthorne, a manager in global diversity and inclusion at Eli Lilly and Co. explained that her best memories come from the very first Summer Celebration she attended.
“Particularly impactful for me was my first summer here in Indianapolis when I actually was here doing a summer internship and I had the opportunity to really celebrate Black Expo, everything from the corporate luncheon to the outdoor concerts to the Expo itself. I think as a young person who was brand new to Indianapolis, it really gave me an opportunity to see a lot of what Indianapolis had to offer.”
For Bruce Williams, the director of media and public relations at the Indiana State Museum, the Mardi Gras Indians’ performance at 2011’s Summer Celebration is his favorite memory.
“This was a group of about 10 Mardi Gras Indians that brought their very festive attire and their instruments and they paraded through the convention hall, picking up fans like the Pied Piper as they went corridor to corridor. When they got in front of the main entrance to the exhibit hall … they actually stopped and performed music and threw out beads and a large crowd formed. That was probably my most memorable and enjoyable moment over the years.”
Pastor Kim Outlaw of Living Water Fellowship Church said that for her, she cannot pick a favorite memory because each Expo she attended has been awesome.
“All of them that I have ever experienced was an awesome, awesome experience to me, so I always encourage everybody to participate in all of the arts and entertainment that pertains to Indiana Black Expo because it’s just a great event … they have all been incredible to me.”