Cleo Blackburn

Cleo Blackburn (1909-1978)

Having discussed the son, Walter Blackburn, in our last newsletter, we’ll highlight the equally noteworthy father, Cleo Blackburn, in this one. Born in Port Gibson, Mississippi, Blackburn came to Indianapolis in 1932 to study religion at Butler University. Ordained a minister upon his graduation, he continued studies in sociology at Fisk University and worked briefly at the Tuskegee Institute before returning to Indianapolis in 1936 to accept the post as Executive Director of Flanner House, a social welfare organization.

The organization, under his forty years of leadership, has been described as the “best known social services institution for negroes in the Midwest during the 40s and 50s.” He expanded its services to include efforts to improve jobs, housing, and health.

His Flanner House Homes programs provided assistance to returning World War II Black veterans to build their own new homes and served as a national model at a time when homes were in short supply. Its Board for Fundamental Education (1948) conceived successful plans to train and educate workers.

Blackburn also served as president of Jarvis Christian College in Texas from 1953-1964, and in local organizations such as Christian Theological Seminary and the Urban League.

Read more about Blackburn here.

Section 75, Lot 38; GPS (39.8190311, -86.1706112)