NAACP Greater Indianapolis Branch
At Work for Your Civil Rights
We Called on Indiana to Achieve Black Academic Excellence
Working with other Indiana NAACP leaders, we released the Indiana Black Academic Excellence Plan, which outlines four key steps and fifteen strategies for student success.
We began meetings with school superintendents, the Indiana Department of Education, corporate leaders, and legislators to educate them on the need to implement the plan’s recommendations and achieve educational equity.
Five Indianapolis students competed in the national ACT-SO achievement program at the NAACP national convention and two came home with medals: Jordyn Jones, silver medal for Poetry Performance, and Xavier Namer, bronze medal for engineering.
We Promoted Cultural Sensitivity in Schools and Opposed Anti-Truth Telling Legislation
We hosted a public forum on the origins of critical race theory with the American Constitution Society and Black Law Students Association at IU McKinney School of Law, seeking to promote clearer understanding of CRT and frank dialogue among legislators, legal experts and policy advocates.
We successfully opposed three bills before the Indiana General Assembly that would have stifled discussion of race, racism and historical racial inequities in classrooms and schools.
After a high school football player appeared in blackface on social media, we urged the Center Grove Schools superintendent to work with us to combat cultural insensitivity and install measures to create an atmosphere where all are considered equal.
We Worked to Reform Policing and Improve Public Safety
We advocated for reform at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, including calling for 24-hour medically trained resource officers after the June death of a black man in police custody. In August, Mayor Joe Hogsett proposed $2 million to fund a new mental health response team in the city’s budget. The NAACP Branch President, Chrystal Ratcliffe, serves on the General Orders Board, which sets policy for how IMPD officers do their jobs.
We urged our members to call Gov. Holcomb to veto House Bill 1296, which repealed state law requiring a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun. When the governor signed the bill into law, we informed the community through social media and email about its requirements.
We Opposed White Supremacy and Called for Reform in Cultural Institutions
We spoke out to the local news media when a neo-fascist, white supremacist hate group, Patriot Front, marched through downtown Indianapolis in September.
We called on The Children’s Museum to treat an incident involving “Juneteenth Watermelon Salad” as a teachable moment about how the racist watermelon stereotype was perpetuated by white supremacists in the Jim Crow era.
Later, we worked with The Children’s Museum as it prepared to debut a touring exhibit on Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, bringing to light Emmett’s kidnapping, torture and murder by white supremacists and how his mother’s insistence that the “world see” helped launch a racial justice movement that continues to this day. We provided in-service training for staff regarding the history of lynching in Indiana and the black community’s response.
We Worked to Improve Community Health
In partnership with the Indianapolis Recorder and WFYI, we hosted a virtual forum with area hospital CEOs to urge their health systems to make commitments to address health equity. The hospital leaders signed a pledge recognizing that “Racism is a Public Health Crisis.” Since then, both Community Hospital and Indiana University Health have continued to engage the NAACP in their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Along with several partner organizations, we met with Indiana corporate leaders to gain support of legislation to establish pregnancy accommodations, reduce maternal health disparities, remove barriers to birth control access, and expand access to child care.
We collaborated with the Indiana Finance Authority to test 323 daycare facilities for lead in water fixtures in eight urban ZIP codes.
We worked with the Indiana State Department of Health, Hoosier Environmental Council and the Minority Health Coalition to encourage black parents to consent to lead testing for their 1- and 2-year-old children.
We collaborated with Mayor-sponsored charter schools, Indianapolis Public Schools, the Marion County Public Health Department, IUPUI and Community Hospital to conduct lead testing of K-1 children and neuropsychological testing for children who had elevated levels of lead in their blood.
In partnership with Community Health Network, the Indianapolis Recorder, and American Legion Post 249, we sponsored a COVID and flu vaccination clinic on Feb. 12.
We Worked to Get Out the Vote
We ran social media campaigns to inform the community about voter registration deadlines and voting hours and locations
We began working with the Divine Nine black fraternities and sororities and other community organizations to encourage voter turnout and ensure voter protection for the November election
We Worked to Reform Policing
We worked to gain passage of police reform legislation that requires all Indiana police to take de-escalation training. The law also restricts police use of chokeholds and makes it easier to de-certify those who commit misconduct, preventing them from ever again finding work as a police officer in Indiana.
We worked with law enforcement and elected officials to confront a legacy of discriminatory and predatory practices in Hamilton County police forces. The City of Carmel now requires all police officers and city staff to take anti-racism training.
We worked with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department as it established its new General Orders Board, which sets department policy on the use of force and other matters.
We Sought to Improve Community Health and Reduce Health Disparities
We hosted a virtual public forum with the heads of Eskenazi Health, Community Health Network and Indiana University Health to hold them accountable for reducing health disparities and ensuring the black community can get the care and treatment they deserve.
Federal officials participated in virtual forum to discuss unsafe levels of lead permeating communities across Indiana, and assistance available to address the problem. Our call for environmental justice held federal agencies accountable to reduce and eliminate the hazard. We co-hosted the forum in partnership with The Indianapolis Recorder, Hoosier Environmental Council, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and New America.
Through a partnership with the Marion County Public Health Department, we provided lead education and testing at a back-to-school party hosted by the Elder W. Diggs Ignite Achievement Academy (School 42). We also provided food and surveyed parents about their knowledge of lead poisoning to spark conversations.
We Called for Reform in Cultural Institutions
We called for reform to address systemic racism issues at Newfields and other Indianapolis cultural institutions. “The time is overdue for organizations to have uncomfortable but necessary conversations while reviewing their practices and policies, and then create a plan with accountable remedies to eliminate systemic racism through not only their words, but their actions,” said President Chrystal Ratcliffe.
We Sought to Reduce Violence in Our Community
We hosted a Facebook Live panel on child abuse, highlighting everyone’s responsibility to help identify and report suspected child abuse to authorities. Prevent Child Abuse Indiana notes that children are at even greater risk during times of stress and social isolation, when they may be spending more time with their abusers and less time with people who can detect abuse and protect them.
We hosted a virtual forum on Facebook Live to help parents and grandparents guide teen-agers away from violence, in partnership with Reach for Youth and Him by Her Foundation.
We Worked to Improve Voter Turnout, Voter Education and Voter Protection
- Phone bank volunteers made more than 4,250 phone calls in Marion County, encouraging infrequent African American voters to exercise their right to vote. We also partnered with the Divine 9 organizations and the Freemasons’ Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Indiana to call voters and provide rides to the polls.
We responded to media inquiries about election day issues and co-hosted a forum with gubernatorial candidates with Delta Sigma Theta and the African American Coalition. Our website at indynaacp.org/vote provided a one-stop shop for information on voter registration, early voting and Election Day voting locations.
Volunteers monitored 45 high-priority vote centers on Election Day for voting problems, including long lines, voter suppression, voter intimidation and irregularities. We notified officials when problems arose, making sure they were fixed. Our legal team helped advise voters and vote center officials throughout the day, ensuring everyone could exercise their right to vote.
We Fought to Reform the Criminal Justice System
We worked with many community partners to address systemic racism in the state and local criminal justice systems. In October, the Indianapolis City-County Council voted to create a first-ever civilian majority on the IMPD’s policy oversight panel.
We Investigated Discrimination Complaints and Police Shootings
We responded to media inquiries about police shootings of black men and implicit bias in the criminal justice system. We investigated complaints of discrimination in Carmel policing, Westfield public schools and other institutions.
We Worked for Equity in Education
We hosted virtual forums on lead poisoning and racism, implicit bias and cultural competency in our schools. We launched pilot programs on testing children for lead exposure and supporting parents whose children suffer from lead poisoning. We advocated for the appropriate distribution of CARES Act Funds to address achievement gaps due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We Educated the African-American Community About Their Health
We created a special webpage to provide COVID-19 information to the community, including information on city and state stay-at-home orders, how to reduce the spread of the disease and other COVID-related matters. We also publicized reports that the African-American community was at greater risk of contracting and dying of the disease. Branch President Chrystal Ratcliffe spoke at the Bridge Forum-Mental Health, a statewide forum held in November to reduce the stigma of mental illness in the criminal justice system.
We Worked for Economic Empowerment and Development
We monitored the City of Indianapolis's implementation of its Community Development Block Grant program. We worked with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists to develop training to empower the black community and combat historic discriminatory lending practices by banking institutions. We supported a black-owned, veteran-owned business facing opposition in its attempt to expand an Economic Empowerment Black Business Zone at 38th and Keystone.
We Shined a Light on Sexual Violence
We collected pink post cards detailing women’s personal experiences with sexual violence or sexual abuse for El Tendedero/The Clothesline Project, in partnership with Women4Change.
We Improved Branch Administration
We established a Zoom account that enabled us to conduct branch meetings, elections and public forums during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
We Fought for Justice at the Statehouse
NAACP lobbied state legislators on behalf of our important issues, such as a comprehensive hate crimes bill and redistricting reform. Working with the Indiana NAACP State Conference, the Indianapolis branch fought successfully to defeat a bill that would have allowed the state to try 12- and 13-year-old children as adults and to place them in adult prisons.
We Helped Improving Voting Access in Marion County
The Marion County Election Board voted to establish voting centers where anyone can vote at any center on election day, ensuring greater access to voting opportunities for all Marion Coun- ty voters. With Common Cause of Indiana, we helped ensure greater voter access.
We Ensured More Children were Tested for Lead Poisoning
Indianapolis Public Schools, Pike Township Schools and Mayor’s Charter Schools began offering free lead testing for all kindergarten and first graders this year through the Marion County Pub- lic Health Department. In January, a survey showed 161 of 297 Marion County school facilities tested were in violation of federal standards for lead levels in drinking water. Affected schools replaced water fountains, added filters and took other corrective measures.
We Pushed for Implicit Bias Training in Schools
The NAACP called attention to racial disparities in school discipline policies in Indianapolis schools. We believe the state should require school employees to attend implicit bias and cul- tural competency training. We also advocated for more trauma-responsive learning environ- ments, where educators focus on anger management and self esteem.
We Connected People to Jobs
On May 21st, the Young Adults Committee hosted a community job fair that helped 50 indivi- duals connect to a dozen employers who offered over 100 jobs, including an entrepreneurial opportunity to start their own business.
We Fought to Ensure Discipline for Police Misconduct
We called on the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to investigate videos showing IMPD officer Robert Lawson using excessive force against a Shortridge High School student. On September 16, the Marion County Prosecutor’s office charged Lawson with battery, obstruc- tion of justice, official misconduct and perjury.
We Supported Young People through the ACT-SO Talent Competition
Two Indianapolis high school students were selected to advance to the national NAACP talent competition known as ACT-SO, the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics. They competed in the national ACT-SO competition from July 18-22 in Detroit, in conjunction with the national NAACP convention.
During 2018, the Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch 3053 worked to safeguard civil rights and the advancement of communities of color through the following activities:
Victory for Voters! 6 Early Voting Sites for Marion County this Fall: The NAACP and Common Cause sued to gain equal access to early voting in Marion County. Voters had six additional early voting satellite locations in Marion County for the fall election.
Ethnic Studies Standards Set for Indiana Schools: The NAACP, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and educators collaborated to create standards for the new ethnic studies course. Starting with the 2018-2019 school year, the first ethnic studies courses that meet these standards must be offered in all Indiana high schools.
NAACP Calls for Reform in Wake of Failed Action to Discipline Officers Involved in Aaron Bailey Police Shooting in Indianapolis: The NAACP Indianapolis leadership called for a number of reforms to implement best practices for the use of lethal force by police.
Working to Prevent Childhood Lead Poisoning: At the urging of NAACP's education committee, Indianapolis Public Schools school board and Indianapolis City-County Council have passed resolutions calling for lead testing for all kindergarten and first grade students.
State Agency Recommends Denial of IPL Rate Increase: The NAACP supported the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) recommendation to deny (IPL) Indianapolis Power & Light Company’s request for an approximate $96.7 million rate increase.
Redistricting Reform Debate: The NAACP Women in NAACP co-sponsored a debate on redistricting reform with Common Cause Indiana, League of Women Voters Indiana, and Women4Change Indiana. The debate was moderated by Chrystal Ratcliffe, President, NAACP Greater Indianapolis Branch #3053 and John Krull, Director, Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College and host of WFYI’s No Limits.