Indiana State University Newsroom

Students to present research on race relations at ISU, Terre Haute

November 29, 2012

From race riots to experiences of African-American athletes, Indiana State University students will be presenting research into race relations from noon to 3 p.m. on Dec. 10 in the Cunningham Memorial Library's Events Area.

Students in the history 300 class have spent the semester investigating topics related to protests and race riots that led to the establishment of Indiana State's African and African-American Studies program and the university's African-American Cultural Center.

When Anne Foster, associate professor of history, teaches that 300-level methodology class she likes to connect it to local history. With the studies program celebrating its anniversary, she found a natural fit.

"It helps students connect to the community and to appreciate the rich and interesting history of Terre Haute," she said. "They are usually surprised to learn how much has gone on here."

A sit-in, a race riot and other efforts led to the establishment of an African-American Studies program, which the Indiana Commission on Higher Education approved ISU's in August 1972. ISU's interdisciplinary program is one of the first in the Midwest and one of the earliest in the nation.

"This semester the study of how ISU became an early leader in African and African-American Studies has helped students become more aware of the important role students played in the creating the curriculum," Foster said. "They have also learned a lot about how ISU was a pioneer in promoting integration and education for all people. But it wasn't always easy to be out in front, and it is good for students to learn about that too."

Students' projects include research into the May 1970 race riot, newspaper coverage of that event, general explorations of black and white student relations, experiences of African-American athletes at ISU as well as race relations and civil rights in Terre Haute.

"The students have learned how much work it is to do historical research, but also how exciting it is to find original accounts by participants, and to learn things that no one else knows," Foster said. "One group told me they were cheering in front the microfilm reader one evening when they found the information they were looking for. Another student, an African and African-American Studies major, told me how inspired she has been to learn more about the risks people took to create the major she is now pursuing. All of them, I think, have become passionate about preserving the stories of ISU."

Contact: Anne Foster, Indiana State University, associate professor of history, at 812-237-8432 or

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, associate director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or