Support our efforts to bring back Monster Meetings in Indianapolis

To register for the October 3, 2021 event, click here.

Monster Meetings began in 1904 at the Senate Avenue YMCA, the Indianapolis Y for African American Men and Boys.

These assemblies started as an evangelistic effort, but in later years expanded to encompass not only the religious aspects of being Black in America but the social, political, and economic aspects as well. Monster Meetings became one of the nation’s most highly respected public forums. Before ending in the late 60s, the meeting series had featured everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt to Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King, Jr. to Jackie Robinson.

The meetings’ legislative branch played a critical role in undermining segregation in Indianapolis schools, jobs, housing, and recreational facilities. Advances included the integration of the Indiana High School Athletic Association and the preparation of anti-hate and anti-segregation bills that were adopted as law in the late 1940s.

Through the revival of Monster Meetings, the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis is working to create racial equity, strengthen character and empower future leaders through truth and racial reconciliation. We look forward to dialogues that educate, motivate and inspire positive change.

Other resources:

THH: Episode 11: Monster Meetings at Senate Avenue YMCA

Monster Meetings at Senate Avenue YMCA

Monster Meetings at the YMCA

Indianapolis Surgeon Challenged the Jim Crow South

October 3, 2021

The first meeting will spotlight Indianapolis’ son and hero, Lt. Col. Charles Henry DeBow, Jr — an amazing young man raised, educated, and encouraged by the Senate Avenue YMCA community, and was in the first class of Tuskegee Airmen. The featured speaker for the occasion will be Charles Henry DeBow, III, son of the honoree. Exquisite musical and artistic talent will also be showcased. Register here.

January 9, 2022

February 27, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:

Q: What were Monster Meetings?

A: Monster Meetings were public forums that began in 1904 as an evangelistic effort and later expanded to encompass not only the religious aspects of being Black in America but also the social, political and economic aspects.

Q: What does the name Monster Meetings mean?

A: The roots of what would become the Senate Avenue YMCA Monster Meetings can be traced to the very early years of the Indianapolis Colored YMCA, and executive secretary Thomas Taylor. He instituted public forums where first men, and later all people, would gather on Sunday afternoons between November and March to listen to lectures on a wide variety of topics. Originally, Taylor wanted to call the forums “Big Meetings” but the proposal was rejected by the Central YMCA board because their annual meeting was already called the Big Meeting. So, Taylor one-upped them and labeled his forum series the Monster Meetings. Taylor couldn’t have known just how fitting that name would become.

Q: What will be the purpose of the meetings?

A: The re-envisioning, revitalizing, and renewing of the Monster Meetings is to re-create forums that encourage free discussion of all subjects of human interest and provide opportunities to see and hear leaders from myriad backgrounds of our nation and community.

Q: Is there a cost to attend?

A: Currently, there is no cost to attend. However, to help defray the cost to bring quality speakers, artistic talent, advertising and other expenses, we are strongly encouraging donation gifts, monetary supports and pro bono services.

Q: Do I need to register to attend?

A: Yes, click here to register for the Oct 3 event.

Q: Where will the meetings be held?

A: Where the meetings will be held will depend largely on the size of the audience. The first meeting will be held at the OrthoIndy Foundation YMCA located at 5315 Lafayette Road, Indianapolis, IN 46254.

Q: Will the meetings be in person or virtual?

A: The meetings will be hosted live and in person with a virtual component for those who prefer a remote option.

Q: Are these meetings associated with the Y?

A: The meetings are presented by and a program of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis.

Q: How can I get involved?

A: Please visit our website at https://indymca.org/monstermeeting/ and select the “Get Connected” tab. Tell us how you would like to be involved by completing the “What would you like us to know?” section.

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