In a once-segregated Indianapolis, Andrew “Bo” Foster’s many properties welcomed Black patrons.
The Foster Hotel and Motor Lodge housed tourists and hosted celebrities like the legendary Muhammad Ali. It was listed in “The Green Book,” a travel guide published from 1936 to 1967 with a directory of locations that allowed Black customers.
Foster Hotel was a safe space for Black Americans during the segregation era. It once stood on the corner of the street now named Fosters Place.
But his family wanted his influence to be commemorated with more than a street sign.
In 2021, grandson Charles Foster Jolivette applied for a state historical marker to be placed near the Hamilton Center on North Illinois Street, where Foster Hotel once stood. This marker, designated by the Indiana Historical Bureau, was unveiled on July 8, 2023.
“I wanted to make sure we took some responsibility for our legacy,” Jolivette said. “What can we do, as his heirs, to help show honor and respect to his legacy, which is our legacy?”
Andrew "Bo" Foster: How the 'Green Book' helped Black motorists travel across Indiana
After Jolivette submitted the request, historical marker program manager Casey Pfeiffer began researching the World War II veteran and entrepreneur.
She found an Indianapolis Recorder article about Foster’s businesses, authored by civil rights activist and pastor Amos Brown.
Brown wrote that the hotel and Pearl’s Lounge, also owned by Foster, served as a “focal point” for Black people in Indianapolis. The lounge hosted community events, political fundraisers and social and civic groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Brown called for a historical marker to be placed at the hotel site. Almost 40 years later, that call was answered.
Foster’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered at the site to share memories, celebrate their heritage and promise to keep his legacy alive.
Jolivette said organizing the event was important to honor Foster, but also bring together family. He reunited with siblings he hadn’t seen in years.
While the great-grandchildren might not realize it now, learning about Foster’s impact will “blow their mind,” Jolivette said.
“(Your history) is a part of who you are, that’s a part of what makes you special,” Jolivette said.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indianapolis historical marker: How Andrew Foster created a legacy