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New Film Celebrates Local Greatriarch, Martindale Brightwood Neighborhood

New Film Celebrates Local Greatriarch, Martindale Brightwood Neighborhood

MIBOR ECDC Grant Helping Facilitate Greatriarch Initiative

Published Sunday, November 7, 2021

Rasheeda’s Freedom Day is a new short film from Harrison Center and Dija Henry of The Blue House that tells the true story of longtime Indianapolis resident and greatriarch (a member of a community who has helped write the story of the neighborhood) Ms. JoAnna LeNoir. She has spent her life learning that her story is worth sharing and now she’s sharing it with you.

In 1962, Ms. JoAnna found the courage to take herself, her mother Rasheeda, and her siblings out of an abusive family situation to find freedom and community in the Indianapolis neighborhood Martindale-Brightwood. Every year since then, they have invited their family, friends, and neighbors on Columbia Street to celebrate “Rasheeda’s Freedom Day” on the anniversary of their escape. As the film shows, a healthy community gives us the courage to share our stories with our neighbors so we can be known and loved. 

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MIBOR ECDC Invests $10,000 in Greatriarch Program

The investment from MIBOR’s ECDC supported providing space for programming, group actives for the Greatriarchs and other senior community members and artist staffing to elevate and preserve stories/culture through art. Joanna Taft, Executive Director of the Harrison Center for the Arts, stated, “MIBOR ECDC’s investment in the Greatriarchs program helped the Harrison Center reduce social isolation for our elderly neighbors and strengthen community in Martindale Brightwood.”

About the Greatriarch Initiative:

The Harrison Center for the Arts created the Greatriarch Gatherings program with the two-pronged approach in mind. The Greatriarch initiative uses art to celebrate the stories of long-term neighborhood residents/seniors in Urban Indianapolis, reduce social isolation and elevate these stories for community cultural preservation. Currently, “Greatriarchs” are long-term urban residents of the Martindale Brightwood neighborhood who have helped create an identity and write the neighborhood story. They are leaders, nurturers, mentors, and friends of the old and new residents of their neighborhood.

The initiative will serve as a model to help other neighborhoods tell the stories and interact with their own Greatriarchs. This project will be documented in the Harrison Center’s Creative Placemaking Toolkit, housed at the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center.