The Black Experience in South Bend


What was life like before the civil rights era for blacks in South Bend? As we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King and his “Dream”, we should take time to reflect on the African American experience, not only in the nation as a whole, but here in South Bend. Local & Family History Services has materials that can offer a window into the African American experience, both nationally and locally.

Did you know that some of our earliest county residents were black? Check out St. Joseph County’s Black Pioneers for more information on some pioneer families.

Many authors have looked at the history of the African American community here. Some titles we have include The Negro in South Bend and When the Truth is Told: A History of Black Women’s Culture and Community in Indiana 1875-1950.

The Reformer was an African American newspaper published in South Bend in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. We have copies available on microfilm.

To explore what it would have been like to live with segregation, look at The Negro Motorist Green Book, published in 1949. This practical guide helped black travelers find places to eat and stay while on the road. (A reminder that simply finding a place to eat lunch could be hard to do if you weren’t white.)

Find these titles and more in Local & Family History Services.

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