The White River: Boundaries of 'redlining' maps still etched in Indianapolis neighborhoods

May 2, 2020

Sarah Bowman

Indianapolis Star

The space had potential, Leon Bates remembers thinking. It was about 20 years ago, and he was looking at an old funeral home as a potential site for his business.

That was when he stumbled on the funeral home's ledgers and began to thumb through the pages from the early to mid-20th Century. Bates, a longtime resident of Indy’s Fall Creek neighborhood, began to notice something: the number of infants who had died from diarrhea.

“I couldn’t understand it,” he said. So he asked his mother, a nurse. She said they probably didn’t have clean water.

“This was a black funeral home and black infants,” he said. “They were all in black neighborhoods and by industry and by our waterways.” About a year later, he saw Indianapolis’ redlining map and realized the overlap.

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