During the Center’s first six months, the people made years happen!

As April ends, we’re celebrating six months of our city’s new Indianapolis Liberation Center, a milestone achieved thanks to the community’s support. Last year, we took the risk of starting an independent, liberated space—one our people needed, that belongs to the poor and oppressed—even though we couldn’t afford it. We never doubted the people’s support, but we didn’t predict how fast it would grow, how expansive, diverse, and multinational we would become, or how many different struggles would unite into a collective that rapidly strengthened the people’s movements. At the Center’s grand opening October 5 last year, we said the doors opened to a new physical office but, more importantly, a new era of struggle in the city. Within six calendar months, the people of Indy and the world made years happen.

Two days after opening, the Palestinian struggle took the world by storm. As a space for collaborative activity, our member-organizations and allies leapt into action for an ongoing series of actions starting October 12, while we coordinated a cross-country charter bus to represent Indy at the historic November 4 March on Washington for Palestine. At the same time, we started our series, “Unleashing the Creativity of the Masses” at the Center’s Fonseca-Du Bois Gallery powered by Arte Mexicano en Indiana, organized rallies against U.S. imperialist wars and attacks on LGBTQ people and abortion rights, helped build a new coalition centered around the families of IMPD victims, continued regular Hope Package assemblies, and more.

NBA All-Star Weekend

Hope Packages

Justice for Baby Gee!

Among the 100 events, actions, and campaigns organized by or in collaboration with the Liberation Center in the last six months, these are just a few examples of our city’s increased ability to fight on simultaneous fronts. This is due solely to the financial sacrifices we as a community made, the discipline of our core volunteer organizers, and the dedication of more than 80 new volunteers. The Center runs on volunteer labor and funds from one-time donations and monthly sustainers. This is our liberated organizing center.

Strength in expanding unity

Collaboration, organization, and unity are the key ingredients for the concrete victories won and the progress we continue to make together. In a matter of months, the Center welcomed FOCUS Initiatives, LTD (which includes FOCUS Re-entry and FOCUS Families), Arte Mexicano en Indiana, Free Shaka Shakur, and the Indiana Black Librarians Network! Each one of these dynamic groups not only adds to, but multiplies, the strength of our other member-organizations, like ANSWER Indiana, PSL Indianapolis, and Hope Packages.

IBLN member Mahasin Ameen

Akili Shakur speaking

FOCUS Initiatives event

There’s no better representation of the power of unity and the strength of our people than the opportunity to help organize and host COMMON UNITY: The Re-birthday of Leon Benson. Leon spent almost 25 years imprisoned–10 of them in solitary confinement–for the murder of Kasey Schoen. When he was 47-years-old, he walked out of the notorious Pendleton prison on March 9, 2023, as a free man, exonerated on all charges. He returned to Indianapolis one year later to celebrate those who fought for his freedom, call for justice for Kasey, and shed light on the countless other innocent and political prisoners still in cages. Watching Leon speak alongside Kasey’s sister, Kolleen, Kelly Bauder of the Conviction Integrity Unity, and fellow fighters and organizers was a historic and life-changing event.

Benson and his kids

Benson speaks on FOX 59

On “Letters of Gratitude”

To strengthen the Indy movement, our collaborations extend beyond city and state lines. In February, the Center hosted Atlanta and Baltimore-based organizers D. Musa Springer of The Walter Rodney Foundation and Erica Caines from the Black Alliance for Peace for a special forum on revolutionary Pan-Africanism and the anti-imperialist struggle. More recently, Mike Prysner, the Writer and Director of “Gaza Fights for Freedom,” joined us for a discussion after the film’s screening. Placing our struggles in the global fight for freedom and forging links between them strengthen us all.

Liberation, education, and culture

Any project to transform society has to speak to and emerge from the lives of our people, the daily rhythms of a society that are named “culture.” Amílcar Cabral, the great African revolutionary who overthrew Portuguese colonialism and united Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, once said, “Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history and a determinant of history.” The people produce culture—like language, crafts, and costumes—and that culture plays a role in making history. For the people to make history, we engage in education and, in words and actions, get rid of the idea that “culture” or “art” are for the elites.

The Center engages in regular popular education, including monthly Liberation Forums, Hope Packages study sessions, book talks, panels, and other educational events. PSL Indianapolis’ Liberation Forums, for example, provide deeper analysis to better inform the struggle and cover any topic related to our people, from Black Liberation to reproductive justice and Palestinian resistance, always placing each topic within a broader global and local perspective to not just state their interrelations but to explain what they are and why they matter.

In addition to popular education, we are proud to have the city’s only explicitly social-justice themed gallery in our space: the Fonseca-Du Bois Gallery powered by Arte Mexicano en Indiana. In February, local artist and Center volunteer Edith Conchas painted a new mural of Indianapolis-born Black revolutionary Shirley Graham-Du Bois in the Center. The Gallery so far has hosted five different exhibitions addressing issues such as immigrant rights, colonialism, Israeli apartheid, and the revolutionary Black tradition in the U.S. Each exhibit begins with an opening reception and artist talk. Several artists have generously donated their work to help raise funds for the Center, and you can purchase their prints here!

Resistance takes many forms, and we are also excited to be building and having events with such significant groups as the Latino Film Dreamers, Midnight Riot Media Club and, among others, GANGGANG and the Marion County Re-Entry Coalition. Be sure to stop by the Center to see 31 Woman’s breathtaking “Whispers of Change,” which opened last Friday. And if you or your group–whatever shape it takes–wants to host a cultural event, your Liberation Center is here for you!

Edith Conchas’ mural

Alejandra Carrillo’s works

Audience participation

Moving the struggle forward

We are proud of the achievements of the community in the past six months. But we aren’t resting on our laurels. As working and oppressed people, we recognize the interconnection of our struggles and the need to fight for each and every one of us. Our struggles right now range from the struggle to exonerate people like Vernon Bateman, educating each other on alternative solutions to fight capitalism’s destruction of our environment, or performing outreach at important events like the upcoming Indy Pride Festival.

In these past six months, we’ve made massive steps in advancing the struggle for justice in our community and even winning victories. But to persist in this degree of struggle and to advance it to a higher level requires consistent and increased support from the people. If you haven’t yet, donate to support our work and if you are already donating, sign up to become a monthly or yearly sustainer.

You can also support the Center by stopping by during open office hours, signing-up to volunteer, or purchasing Liberation Center literature and merchandise. We encourage you to share our efforts and successes with your friends and family, and inspire others to connect with, get involved, and support the work of the Indianapolis Liberation Center.

With your continued support, the Indianapolis Liberation Center can sustain our success in building community and fostering radical change for a fair and just world for all!