This blog includes background research and course materials for “Heritage and the African-American Suburbs,” a course that was taught by Paul Mullins at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in Spring 2016. The class examined the historical legacy of African-American suburbanization and the contemporary meanings of that history. The course focused on suburbs in Indianapolis and aims to produce histories of several Indianapolis neighborhoods. These accounts are based on ethnographic interviews with suburban residents and historical research on those communities. The course partners with current and former suburbanites, conducting oral histories and primary historical research on Indianapolis’ earliest predominately and exclusively African-American suburbs.
“Heritage and the African-American Suburbs” is a RISE Undergraduate Research Experience Course. The class development began in Summer 2015 with support from an IUPUI RISE Curriculum Development Grant. RISE courses focus on one of four areas: research, international experiences, service learning, and experiential learning. This course’s partnership between students and African-American suburbanites revolves around the RISE initiative’s experiential learning dimension. Students are expected to develop a clear understanding of the American suburban experience by studying postwar housing laws, reading contemporary discussions on housing, and listening to suburbanites who were part of this process. The course is public scholarship that aspires to illuminate a significant if somewhat overlook heritage that continue to shape the contemporary landscape.