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Civil Rights Heritage Center Receives Freedom Award

January 7th, 2014 |

Civil Rights Heritage Center Receives Freedom Award

The IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center and its Engman Natatorium Project received the 2014 Freedom Award at the 23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Statehouse Celebration. The award was presented on Jan. 15 at the Indiana Statehouse Rotunda.

The award was presented by the Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Holiday Commission.

The award is given to an individual or project whose major societal influence includes breaking down barriers that have divided us in the past and/or building ongoing relationships that foster respect, understanding, and harmony in our schools and communities.

The nominations are made anonymously by the member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Holiday Commission.

Alfred J. Guillaume Jr., retired executive vice chancellor, and Muhammad Shabazz II, both from the Civil Rights Heritage Center, were in Indianapolis to receive the award along with Allison Stankrauff, Schurz Library archivist.

Shabazz said he was thrilled to be part of the ceremony and to meet the governor. He added that the work of the center has been noted as important to the community and the state.

The center’s mission to portray the past, present and future of civil rights, serving as an active center that promotes social justice and human rights embodies that spirit of the award. According to Ava Taylor, public outreach and events manager for the Indiana Civil Right Commission, the center and natatorium are both important facets that the commission examined before giving the award. She cited the formation of the center as a student-led project and the importance of preserving the natatorium as a symbol of the struggle of civil right in the community.

Four awards were presented – Freedom Award, Spirit of Justice, Passing the Torch and Chairman’s Award. The other awards have not been announced.

The program included remarks by Gov. Mike Pence and the presentation of awards.

The IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center was created in 2000 after students returned from a trip to the South and wanted to continue their research into civil rights issues. The center is active in research into the struggles and achievements of citizens committed to social justice and it uses the civil rights movement as living history.

The Civil Rights Heritage Center at the Natatorium reopened in 2010. IU South Bend began working in 2006 with the city of South Bend and the South Bend Heritage Foundation to renovate and adapt the building for a center of research, community activities and education.

The public natatorium was built in 1922. It was partially desegregated in 1936 and full integrated in 1950.

Due to soaring repair costs and declining attendance, the pool closed in 1978. The pool shed was demolished in 2006. Today the pool site is a peace garden.

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