Entering the next era: Your new Liberation Center’s history and future

Less than three years since our founding, the dedication and hard work of our many volunteers—from organizers and supporters to allies and members—has empowered the Indianapolis Liberation Center to officially open a brand-new community center. Located in the art-deco style building at 1800 N. Meridian St, directly across from the IndyGo Red Line, the new Indianapolis Liberation Center is centrally-located, accessible, professionally maintained by volunteer organizers, open for a wide range of community events, and capable of incorporating new and established groups at various levels of membership.

At the October 5 grand opening event, the doors will open not only to a new physical office, but also to a new phase of building people power and advancing the struggles of the poor and oppressed in Indianapolis. When we started the Center in January 2021, we could only afford a single small office in the back of the A&P Building on State St. Due to the dedication of our supporters, partners, and the volunteer work of our individual and organizational members, we organized and initiated over 200 political, cultural, educational, and other events, from protests, campaigns, and coalitions to classes, study groups, film screenings, and workshops.

As individuals and organizations, we don’t take credit for our Center’s ability to survive and thrive in a cramped office. Instead, we attribute its success to the spirit and resilience of the people of Indianapolis. We didn’t create that but amplified it by providing a physical space for different sectors of the community to meet, gather, work, and discuss.

We do believe, however, that the Center’s expansion, which includes multiple offices, a large common area, and more, validates our fundamental belief that cooperation and collaboration, not competition, is the essential—if difficult—ingredient needed for building a better city for working and oppressed people. The only way a tiny minority of politicians and the elite can marginalize the majority is by pitting us against each other. Instead of fighting each other for the scraps of food they “offer” to us, we need to unite and take the entire meal because, let’s face it, we’re the ones who made it in the first place!

A people’s community center: Political and financial independence

The Liberation Center is completely staffed by volunteers and solely funded by our members and the community at large. Establishing our new community center is truly unique not only because it provides space where cultural, educational, community, and progressive groups can work and cross-pollinate, but also because it is completely independent, operating without government or corporate foundation grants that always come with strings attached.

As a result, we have to rely on each other–the poor and working people–to sacrifice some of what little we have to keep going. Yet this is the only way real change is made. Corporations and governments don’t fund groups that truly challenge them. For this reason, long-time community advocate and professor Dr. Terri Jett sees the Center as the place to go “when elected officials are not responsive to the people.” Dr. Jett describes us as “a courageous collective group of organizations and people who are not afraid to show up and demand solutions that represent the consciousness and values of the community.” For the same reason, the Center’s online outlet, the Indianapolis Liberation, constantly and reliably updates our website with news and analysis unavailable in the corporate media.

We can only promote and practice real democracy and maintain our political independence because of our financial independence. Your help is needed especially with our fundraising drive to help us all begin this next chapter.

The immense potential of Indy’s new Liberation Center

Even before officially opening, we’ve witnessed some of the extraordinary potential of the new Center to build unity and advance the interests of the marginalized. Just prior to our move, we welcomed our newest member organization, Arte Mexicano en Indiana. As the group’s director, Eduardo Luna put it, “the arts will always have a strong connection and commitment to social justice, that is why we find it important to collaborate with and support the Indy Liberation Center’s upward trajectory.” They join our current member organizations, Indy10 Black Lives Matter, Hope Packages, ANSWER Indiana, and PSL Indianapolis.

The Center’s first explicitly cultural group, our new partnership with the artistic and cultural scene gives the community at large access to a creative outlet in the city. With the first Arte Mexicano en Indiana office in the Liberation Center, we will soon host our own exhibitions and artist talks.

For another example, on September 27 we received an international peace delegation from the People’s Democracy Party of South Korea just hours before hosting Yassal Gui’s celebration of Mawlid Al Nabi Muhammad, which featured Senegalese and U.S. food and drink, spiritual songs, dances, and talks, and more. This is just a snapshot of the ways we can and will connect different struggles and communities not just in Indianapolis, but around the globe.

Knowing the time and difficulty of simply procuring a location for an event, we are thrilled to offer a new community venue that different individuals and groups can utilize for activities and meetings. The additional volunteers and interns the Center can formally accept will make collaborating with new people and entities easier. 

We can now extend various kinds of membership to established, emerging, and embryonic organizations to make all of our work more efficient, better coordinated, and less siloed. Working together through the Center, we strengthen the collective knowledge of the diverse cross-sections of our city’s people, communities, and struggles.

An open invitation to the community that made this possible

We invite you to celebrate the official launch of the new Indianapolis Liberation Center with us between 5:00 – 10:00 pm on October 5. You can expect light food, drinks, music, and a political program emceed by Liberation Center co-founder Doris Jones.

In addition to hearing from Liberation Center co-founder Doris Jones and others on the frontlines of struggle in Indianapolis, we’re especially excited to be joined by Nino Brown, a former public-school teacher who is currently a community organizer; member of the Jericho Movement, a group formed to free all political prisoners and prisoners of war in the U.S.; and an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition.

Brown edited the 2022 book, Revolutionary Education, and has published articles in academic journals and a range of popular outlets, including Monthly Review, Black Agenda Report, the Hampton Institute, and Liberation School, where he also co-taught a 4-part online course on prison abolition.

Afterwards, stay for a party with refreshments and the sounds of DJ el Camarón Electrónico.

Together, let’s commemorate the people who help realize the Center’s mission and vision, welcome new visitors and participants in the struggle, and honor those who developed the progressive legacy on which we build.