One of Indianapolis' first public schools for Black children now a historical marker

John Hope School 26 is a new historical marker
Posted at 11:13 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 23:16:14-04

INDIANAPOLIS — History was honored Monday night at a school on the city's northeast side.

One of the first schools for Black students was designated a historical marker during a commemoration ceremony.

What is now known as The Oaks Academy on the corner of East 16th Street and Columbia Avenue was once John Hope School 26. It was of the only schools that Black children in Indianapolis could attend when it was established in 1901

"People have moved away from this area. We've lost so much of our history," said Sarah Spearman, who attended John Hope School 26.

On Monday evening, alumni and current students at The Oaks Academy witnessed the unveiling of the new historical marker.

"It shows their fortitude and what they were able to accomplish," said Casey Pfeiffer, the historical marker program director at Indiana Historical Bureau.

Spearman said of the ceremony, "It really did bring tears to my eyes because I'm saying we have not been forgotten. We have been trampled, but not forgotten."

Those who filled the school for the historic evening watched the first public screening of the documentary “The Glories of Our Journey.” It explains John Hope School 26 through the eyes of those who attended.

The documentary shows a predominantly Black community rising above to make educational milestones that were not openly granted.

"For generations now, people are going to be able to see this marker and the history of the people that existed in this community. And to have it partnered with the documentary it’s just going to continue to share that story to a number of audiences hopefully beyond the Indianapolis community," said Pfeiffer.

The documentary that debuted this evening will air at the Kan Kan Cinema at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Officials said at its peak, school number 26 was the largest elementary school in Indiana.