Business Equity for Indy (BEI), which was established in October 2020, is a collection of stakeholders on a mission to drive change and advance racial equity. Late last year, our Chairman, Jeff Harrison shared, “As BEI celebrates two years of work toward equity, we also recognize that our journey is, in many ways, just beginning. Working together, we must continue to question how our actions today are leading to positive impacts and improvements in the quality of life for Black and Brown residents in the years to come.”
Although BEI’s journey has just begun, there are fervent Indiana leaders who have fought for change for centuries. As I reflect on leaders and movements from the past, I think about the amazing activists and organizations that are making our ancestors proud. The impact of these individuals only grows more noteworthy as time progresses, so let’s pause, and properly celebrate them today, during Black History Month, and year-round.
The following leaders have weaved equity into the very fabric of Indy:
Ericka Sanders, Executive Director, You Yes You Project (YYY). YYY’s mission is to help incarcerated fathers build and maintain relationships with their children and strengthen their ability to BE a father. YYY is the ONLY organization that works in partnership with the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) to engage incarcerated fathers through father/child activities, therapy, and curriculum-based workshops. Ericka saw a need and became the change she wanted to see. It’s incredible and creates ripples of positive impact for Black families in our community.
Mamon Power III and his organization, Powers & Sons Construction Company, are making history in the construction industry—in and outside of Indiana. Mamon is a fierce advocate for policies that are and will impact the Black community.
There’s no doubt that Alan and Malina Bacon, GangGang has been instrumental in showcasing Black art and artists in a way Indiana has never seen before. In 2021, the organization hired over 330 local creatives raising over $2.6 million. The organization is shifting business in equitable, revenue-generating ways.
Jeffrey A. Harrison is the first Black president, chief executive officer of Citizens Energy Group, and BEI’s Chairman. Jeff uses his voice continually and holds his peers accountable for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. His dedication and effort for his community are admirable.
Akiliah Darden is the founder and president of The Darden Group and the director of design & construction, diversity, and inclusion for IU Health. She has overseen almost $2 billion in construction, and she makes diversification among project teams a priority. IU Health is in the beginning stages of a $1.6 billion expansion project, and the health system is committed to diversifying the project by at least 30 percent—Akiliah is leading the charge.
Sampson Levingston, Through2Eyes started as a blog to share perspectives and views. That has now evolved to Walk & Talks through Indiana Avenue, Martindale, Historic Irvington, Butler-Tarkington, Mapleton-Fall Creek, and Fountain Square, and Hawk & Talks that are 35 to 45-minute presentations delivered to schools that cover some of Indy’s coolest history and coolest birds! They talk about people, art, sports, music, and nature that help shape our city.
Anthony Murdock, Circle City Storytellers which is a leading digital resource hub for storytellers in Circle City and beyond! #NaptownNarratives is a docuseries featuring a collection of stories that share why Naptown is a city filled with promise & culture. Creek and Fountain Squarsched
These are just a few of the Black leaders’ inspiring change across the city; honestly, there are too many to name. I have so much inspiration from the up-and-coming Black talent that is here in Indy and it’s my mission to ensure they are supported, connected, and successful in continuing to lift and elevate our community through their work, I encourage you and your organization to support them through investment and amplification of their work and voices—not just during Black History Month, but year-round.