When all-black Crispus Attucks High School was built in the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan ran Indiana and its capital. The governor, the majority of the state legislature, the mayor and the entire School Board were Klansmen or Klan-backed. The school was designed to fail. But it did not fail. For more than 40 years, the students who came of age within the brick walls of Attucks overcame a system designed to belittle them. They became surgeons and teachers, scientists and politicians, world-class musicians and athletes. And over time, these successes and the grace that accompanied them became a grassroots agent for integration, winning over the younger generation of Indy’s white population.
It is not an easy story, but it’s a seminal element of Indiana’s journey. As part of the state’s Bicentennial commemoration, WFYI Public Media and Ted Green Films are teaming up to illuminate the story of Crispus Attucks and its students, including Oscar Robertson, Maj. Gen. Harry Brooks, Brig. Gen. Norris Overton, Betty Crowe, Angela Brown, David Baker, Janet Langhart-Cohen and many other Attucks graduates, as well as Gen. Colin Powell and historians James Madison and Richard Pierce.
This documentary is made possible by The Efroymson Family Fund; Lilly Endowment; CNO Financial Group; The Indianapolis Foundation, an affiliate of the Central Indiana Community Foundation; the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation; Impact 100 Greater Indianapolis; the family of Samuel and Alexis Odle; Thomas Sharpe; Donald Moffitt; the Indianapolis Urban League; and many other generous companies and individuals.