More about the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center
The IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center (CRHC) is a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Located at 1040 W. Washington and housed in the former Engman Public Natatorium, the CRHC focuses on education, culture, and activism.
The CRHC is an extension of the IU South Bend campus. As such, it operates as a space for students, faculty, administrators, student organizations, and other university entities to meet, hold classes, and engage with the larger community. Faculty from various departments hold single class sessions as well as full semester courses at the CRHC, and several student organizations use the facility to hold meetings and events. Additionally, the CRHC serves as a model for the commitment IU South Bend has to community engagement through its relationships with institutions and organizations in South Bend, including municipal departments, area universities, and the arts community.
In keeping with the mission of IU South Bend as a public university, the CRHC sponsors or hosts a wide range of educational and cultural programming to engage the public in conversations on issues and concerns of local and national importance. There are regular speakers and panels on various topics, book and film discussions on a range issues, poetry and spoken word events, and student and community performances.
The CRHC also functions as a community resource for local grassroots activism. In this capacity, the CRHC provides space for meetings and participates in coalitions formed to address local and regional community concerns. We have forged close ties with and between organizations grounded in the experiences of African American, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and others who share our values and commitment to civil rights and social justice. This role highlights the commitment of IU South Bend to be an engaged campus and advances opportunities for students and faculty to interact with the community beyond the classroom.
As importantly, the CRHC functions as a living museum that simultaneously preserves and honors past struggles for civil rights and social justice in the Northern Indiana region while initiating and supporting contemporary efforts to advance the unfinished fight for justice. This is accomplished by housing a permanent exhibition detailing the history of the civil rights struggle to transform the Engman Public Natatorium from a place that excluded and then segregated against African Americans, into a space that is inclusive and welcoming to all. Working in conjunction with the Franklin D. Schurz Library, museum archival activities at the CRHC include collaborative efforts to gather and preserve oral histories, historical documents and artifacts, and other primary source materials that trace the social, cultural, and political contributions of underrepresented communities.
The CRHC continues to be forward-looking while recognizing the role of the past in shaping our present world. Fully embodied as a component of the university while squarely located within the South Bend community, the CRHC is uniquely situated to serve as a bridge between the academy and the community to fulfill IU South Bend’s mission to educate and serve.