Eight notable African American hoosiers

Wes Montgomery (March 6, 1923 – June 15, 1968)

John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery was a prominent jazz guitarist born March 6, 1923 in Indianapolis. He is highly regarded as a great influence for other artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix.

He died June 15, 1968 in Indianapolis from a heart attack. There is a park named in his honor located at 3501 N, Hawthorne Ln in Indianapolis.

Marshall “Major” Taylor (November 26, 1878 – June 21, 1932)

Major Taylor was a famous cyclist who won the track cycling championship in 1899. He overcame prejudice and racial discrimination and went on to set numerous records.

He was nicknamed “The Black Cyclone.” The Major Taylor Velodrome Park located at 3649 Cold Spring Rd is named in his honor.

Kenneth “Baby Face” Edmonds (April 10, 1959- )

He is a ten time Grammy Award winning R&B recording artist, song writer and producer. Babyface has written and produced for famous artists such as Beyonce, TLC, Madonna, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and more. He attended North Central High School.

Tavis Smiley (September 13, 1964 – )

Smiley is the talk show host of the “Tavis Smiley Show” on PBS. He grew up in Bunker Hill, Indiana and attended Indiana University.

He is passionate about social issues affecting the African American community such as racial profiling, police brutality, racism and poverty, among others.

He has had distinguished authors, actors/actresses and politicians on his show such as Amy Tan, Nikki Giovanni and Debora L. Spar.

Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson, the “Big O,” is the player against whom all others labeled “all-around” are judged, and he may remain the standard forever.

Statistically, he sets the bar from 1961-62, just his second year in the league: 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game-an average of a triple-double for an entire season.

Not even Magic Johnson or Larry Bird could match those numbers. During his 14-year NBA career with the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks, Robertson amassed 26,710 points.

Michael Jackson

Jackson was born Michael Joseph Jackson in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, and entertained audiences nearly his entire life.

Despite his many charitable acts, it seems that Jackson’s drastic physical changes and numerous scandals and bizarre behaviors will always sully his overall image.

But Jackson’s passion and artistry as a singer, dancer, writer and businessman are unparalleled, and it is these prodigious talents that will ultimately prevail over the negative aspects of his troubled adult life.

John W. Hardrick

John Wesley Hardrick was born in Indianapolis, where he spent his entire artistic career.

Like many other black artists beginning their careers during the early 1920’s, Hardrick was forced to work as a manual laborer to support his interest in art. His first important recognition came when he won the Harmon bronze medal in fine arts for 1927.

Hardrick went on to exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution, the Chicago Art Institute, the American Negro Exposition, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and other museums throughout the country.

Hardrick continued to work until he developed Parkinson’s disease and could no longer paint.  He died in 1968.

Mike Epps

Mike Epps was born on November 18, 1970 in Indianapolis as Michael Elliot Epps. He is an actor and producer, known for The Hangover , Resident Evil: Apocalypse  and Next Friday .

He has been married to Mechelle McCain since July 2006. They have two children and reside in Beverly Hills, California.