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Q&A with Sampson Levingston: Telling Our City’s Story

Posted by: Hannah Thomas
Posted: July 29, 2020
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Culture & Diversity, Civic Engagement, IndyHub

Indy native Sampson Levingston truly thought outside the box when he created Through2Eyes as a space for people to begin sharing perspective and views with one another. He turned his passion for history into a business and this June he began giving Walk and Talk tours – guiding participants through our city’s Black history on Wednesdays and Saturdays. After I took his Indiana Ave. tour, I connected with Sampson to talk about Through2Eyes and his passion for our city.

Sampson – you’re now known as one of Indy’s 20-and 30-something historians – you tell the story of The Ave. in such a infectious and passionate way – when did you come up with this idea of giving tours and when did your creation Through2Eyes come about? 

I started Through2Eyes in 2017 after I graduated college and I was just looking for an outlet to help interact and connect with people and find myself. In 2019 I converted to the platform to focus on all Indiana history, I realized how much I love talking about Indiana history and it’s through Indiana history that I’ve been able to discover myself and figure out some answers and I’ve been looking for. I also figure out a lot more questions.

I’ve been writing articles, creating videos and sharing facts for 3 years. I started giving tours on June 13th, and I haven’t looked back since. 

Here at IndyHub, we believe that people make the city. Being an Indy native, your work in our city is personal and is helping uncover lots of unhidden truths about things that have happened to Black people in Indianapolis over the course of the last century and even before then- from the history of Madam Walker, Mr. Ransom and Ransom Place, Crispus Attucks High School, and Jazz. Tell us about your story and what led you to this calling of telling Indy’s history and how have you grown throughout this experience?

I have grown so much during this experience. There are so many stories that need to be told here in Indianapolis, especially when it comes to our rich black history that’s here. Through my time growing up here, especially in school – I wasn’t being told that story.  I had to go look it up and figure it out, find the people that were telling it and now I get to tell it. I just feel like I’m supposed to be doing this. It is my calling!

You are a graduate of Indiana State University – what brought you back to Indianapolis after graduation?

Indy’s home. I always knew I would come right back here and I don’t see myself living anywhere else. That doesn’t mean I’d never leave, but this is home, I love Indianapolis.

Do you have a favorite story you like to tell during Walk and Talk? 

All of the stories are so unique. I think my favorite stories are the ones that Walk and Talk guests tell me, those memories are awesome.

We talk a lot about our city’s momentum, how we’re adapting and evolving from what was once a sleepy fly-over town to a major driver of innovation and progress. What would you say has been the most important change or inflection point we have seen in Indy throughout your time here? 

The momentum is definitely there and a lot of factors have played a part in our city’s revitalization. I think the only way to keep it going It’s a truly embrace and amplify our different cultures here in Indianapolis. 

What’s your hope for Indy in the next 10 years? Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? 

The future is tough, I have a hard time trying to piece it together at times. Hopefully my relationship with Indianapolis only continues to grow and benefit us both. 

You’ve been asked to bring three of the most interesting people in Indianapolis to a dinner party. Who is on your list? 

Freeman B. Ransom – Madam CJ Walker’s Attorney, the Ransom Place neighborhood is also named after him.

Wes Montgomery – The Most influential guitarist of the twentieth century

Mary Rann – First Black Graduate of IPS

How can people learn more information and find out how to participate in your Walk and Talk tours?
You can follow @Through2Eyes social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and register for one of my Walk and Talk tours in Irvington or Indiana Ave. on our website at www.through2eyes.com!

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