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'Our legacy': New historical marker celebrates Indianapolis entrepreneur Andrew Foster

The front of this postcard shows the Foster Hotel & Motor Lodge in Indianapolis. The hotel is listed in multiple editions of the Traveler's Green Book, a guide Black Americans used to find safe and accommodating lodging, restaurants and businesses while traveling during the late 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. The hotel was owned and operated by by Andrew "Bo" and Pearl Foster.

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.

Fosters Place was named after Andrew "Bo" Foster, an entrepeneur and World War II veteran who provided safe spaces for Black Americans to go in Indianapolis during the segregation era.
Fosters Place was named after Andrew "Bo" Foster, an entrepeneur and World War II veteran who provided safe spaces for Black Americans to go in Indianapolis during the segregation era.

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.

Patricia Warner, Andrew Foster's daughter, gives a speech in front of the historical marker honoring her father's impact on Indianapolis. Her father's businesses welcomed Black patrons during the segregation era.
Patricia Warner, Andrew Foster's daughter, gives a speech in front of the historical marker honoring her father's impact on Indianapolis. Her father's businesses welcomed Black patrons during the segregation era.

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

Andrew Foster's children, grandchildren and great grandchildren pose in front of the newly-unveiled historical marker on the property where Foster Hotel used to stand on July 8, 2023.
Andrew Foster's children, grandchildren and great grandchildren pose in front of the newly-unveiled historical marker on the property where Foster Hotel used to stand on July 8, 2023.

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.

Charles Foster Jolivette, Andrew Foster's grandson, stands in front of the property where Foster Hotel once stood. He submitted the application for a historical marker to honor his grandfather, which was unveiled on July 8, 2023.
Charles Foster Jolivette, Andrew Foster's grandson, stands in front of the property where Foster Hotel once stood. He submitted the application for a historical marker to honor his grandfather, which was unveiled on July 8, 2023.

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.

The back of the state historical marker honoring Andrew "Bo" Foster, unveiled on July 8, 2023.
The back of the state historical marker honoring Andrew "Bo" Foster, unveiled on July 8, 2023.

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.

Andrew "Bo" Foster's great grandchildren stand in front of the historical marker commemorating his legacy on July 8, 2023.
Andrew "Bo" Foster's great grandchildren stand in front of the historical marker commemorating his legacy on July 8, 2023.

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

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