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A Black and Brilliant Day in Indianapolis: Our Modern Green Book

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Hey there,

When we set foot in Indianapolis for our Black and Brilliance Day Series to amplify and celebrate businesses and individuals with the Black Brilliance Badge, let me tell you… the brilliant energy was electric in this city! We found the places, people, and organizations that weave a tapestry of Black brilliance throughout the city. It’s like the very air was charged with the spirit of Black brilliance and legacy-building. 

We couldn’t wait to honor four extraordinary organizations with our Black Brilliance Badge. We’re taking a moment to honor their stories, their work, and their humanity. The joy, connection, and shared purpose were overwhelming in the best way possible. Moments like these remind us of the power of unity, the magic of community, and the limitless potential we cultivate together.

Our work on this day, and each time we do our Black and Brilliant Days, builds on the profound work of Victor Hugo Green when he and his team authored The Historic Green Book. We celebrate the places and people who cultivate a legacy of Black brilliance, just like the historic guide showcasing safe spaces for Black travelers. 

Our day began at the Ujamaa Community Bookstore, a place that felt like a warm embrace from the moment we walked in. We walked into a room full of joy and connectedness–that’s the vibe Ujamaa exudes. The space is designed to uplift, connect, and share love. Their books, stationery, and activities are tailored to feed the Black soul. We went in strangers and walked out as family. It’s more than a store–it’s a hub of brilliance.

We then moved next door to savor the flavor at Cleo’s Bodega and Cafe. In this haven, taste and brilliance seamlessly intertwine. The finest coffee and tea aroma welcomed us, and the best barista of all time beamed with pride to “hook us up” with a drink just for us. Mmmmmm… I can still taste it, y’all. As we indulged in the most decadent yet elegant grilled cheese made with Chef Oya’s Trapp Butter–the secret sauce that makes everything shine–we realized that Cleo’s isn’t just a cafe. It’s a testament to the brilliance that arises when passion meets purpose. It was healing for us. 

The unofficial mayor of Indianapolis, Patrick Jones, scooped us up, and our journey continued. Patrick is a community trailblazer and abolitionist, shaping a legacy of truth and brilliance through Exponentia Prime. He is not just teaching math but living it with a legacy of truth and brilliance. His commitment to community leadership and mathematics is nothing short of awe-inspiring. I mean, even his car was filled with incredible math materials that encourage kids to be competitive in math, and we weren’t surprised. Let me tell you, the brilliance and genius in the materials at Exponentia Prime are stunning, with gorgeous Black kid representation. I had to fight the urge not to bring them back with me. 

Thirsty for warmth and to keep the good vibes rollin’, we landed at a beautifully vibrant place called Tea’s Me Cafe, owned by the phenomenal #24 Tamika Catchings. This basketball legend welcomed us with open arms and shared her journey from the court to the world of tea. A cup of tea symbolized grounding, comfort, and home during her childhood. Tamika’s cafe isn’t just about beverages but a sanctuary where Black brilliance and our stories flourish and fill us. 

Our journey reached a crescendo at Believe High School, led by Kimberly Neal. Young minds radiate courage and brilliance here, crafting artworks celebrating Black lives and stories. As we engaged with the students, we witnessed their commitment to inquiry, advocacy, and the intentional shaping of their brand. Believe Schools embodies the legacy we nurture–one of excellence and agency to get what’s yours. Whew… we all needed to hear what they had to say that day! 

Here are three lessons we learned from our brilliant interactions in Indianapolis. 

  • Black Brilliance is Truth: In the dynamic realm of Black Brilliance, we uncover the profound truth that Black joy is not a fleeting emotion. Instead, it is the very cornerstone upon which our narrative must be constructed. 
  • Our Caregiver Obligation is to Unlock Black Brilliance: Black brilliance is not static. Black brilliance embodies a lively, action-driven force that continually motivates individuals and communities to amplify, celebrate, and cultivate our brilliance. This ongoing commitment to greatness sets the stage for transformative change and empowerment.
  • Black Brilliance is a Healing Experience: Immersing oneself in the world of Black brilliance transcends mere choice and becomes a profoundly healing journey that revitalizes the spirit. It reaffirms our sense of purpose and connects us to a powerful legacy of strength and resilience. This holistic approach to personal and community growth holds the potential to be a driving force for positive change.


We’re curating our own narrative of brilliance–amplifying, celebrating, and sharing the genius all around us through the Black Brilliance Badge. Help us build our community, join us for the next leg of our journey, and invite a friend. Let’s continue to uplift and embrace the brilliance that defines us.