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Black Market Firebombing

Location: Peoples Park, 501 E. Kirkland Ave., Bloomington (Monroe County), Indiana 47408

Installed 2020 Indiana Historical Bureau and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce

ID#: 53.2020.1

Read more on the Indiana History Blog post Black Market Firebombing: Revolution and Racism in Bloomington, Indiana

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Side One

In 1968, amidst sweeping political and social activism in the U.S., African American student Clarence “Rollo” Turner led protests against racial discrimination which were met with hostility.   That fall, Turner opened the Black Market here, which sold products made in Africa or by African Americans, and acted as a cultural center for black students at Indiana University.  

Side Two

On December 26, 1968, a local man with Ku Klux Klan ties firebombed the Black Market, destroying the entire store.  Though it never reopened, students, faculty, and the community raised funds to cover the store’s inventory.  In 1970, Indiana University students began developing the vacant lot into a People’s Park, a space for activism, recreation, and free expression.

Annotated Text

Side One

In 1968, amidst sweeping political and social activism in the U.S., African American student Clarence “Rollo” Turner led protests against racial discrimination which were met with hostility. [1] That fall, Turner opened the Black Market here, which sold products made in Africa or by African Americans, and acted as a cultural center for black students at Indiana University.[2]

Side Two

On December 26, 1968, a local man with Ku Klux Klan ties firebombed the Black Market, destroying the entire store.[3] Though it never reopened, students, faculty, and the community raised funds to cover the store’s inventory.[4] In 1970, Indiana University students began developing the vacant lot into a People’s Park, a space for activism, recreation, and free expression. [5]


[1] “County Klan to ‘Walk’ Bloomington,” (Martinsville) Reporter-Times, March 11, 1968, 8; “University Cannot Rightfully Stop KKK I.U. Forum Speaker – Snyder,” Indiana Daily Student, March 27, 1968, 1; “Judge Blocks Klan Event in Bloomington,” Rushville Republican, March 28, 1968, 7; “Hill Issues Order Halting Klan Visit,” Indiana Daily Student, March 28, 1968, 1; “Forum Cancels Klan Debate; Snyder Says ‘Timing Wrong,’” Indiana Daily Student, March 30,1968, 1; “Black Students to Demonstrate; Will Present Grievances to Star,” Indiana Daily Student, March 30, 1968, 1; “I.U. Spurns Klan,” (Munster) Times, March 31, 1968, 22; “Klan Card Left at Butler Door,” Indiana Daily Student, October 1, 1968, 2; “Bringing It All Back Home, The Spectator, 7, no. 4, (October 1968): 3-4; “Racism: In the Greek Tradition,” The Spectator, 7, no. 9, (November 1968):4, “Unitarians to Hear Black Leader,” (Columbus) Republic, November 2, 1968, 9; Indiana University, Artubus (Bloomington, Indiana: 1969), 31, Indiana University Yearbook Archives, iuyearbook.com; Thomas Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer Vil. III Years of Fulfillment, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977, 568; Thomas Clark, Indiana University Midwestern Pioneer: Volume IV/ Historical Documents Since 1816, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977, 755-787; Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, Revised Edition, New York:  Bantam, 2013; Mark Kurlansky, 1968: The Year that Rocked the World, New York:  Random House, 2005; Jeremi Suri, The Global Revolutions of 1968, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc, 2007.

[2] Socially Significant Soul Styles Replace Whitey’s Duds for Blacks Who Have ‘Arrived,’” Indiana Daily Student, September 28, 1968, 1; IU News Bureau, “Rollo Turner and The Black Market,” Indiana University Archives Exhibits, accessed June 19, 2019.

[3] Note: Additional Court Records Available in Indiana State Historical Marker file, under “Other Sources.”

American Association of University Professors, “AAUP Black Market Statement,” Indiana University Archives Exhibits, accessed June 19, 2019; Jim Helm, “To Offer Reward for Arson Information,” Bloomington Herald Telephone, January 5, 1969, 3; Jeannene Seeger, “’Black Market’ Firebomb Destruction Brings University and City Response,” Indiana Daily Student, January 7, 1969, 1; Jeannene Seeger, George Toth, “Senate to Ponder ‘Market’ Bomb,” Indiana Daily Student, January 9, 1969, 3; “A Coward Did This: The Bombing of the Black Market,” The Spectator, 7, no. 13, (January 1969): 4; Jeannene Seeger and Karen Carle, “Peace Between Races Dead, Black Leader Tells Students,” Indiana Daily student, January 11, 1969, 1; “A little Pomposity,” The Spectator, 7, no. 13, (January 1969): 24; “Who Blames Blacks?,” Indiana Daily Student, January 14, 1969, accessed Indiana University Archives Online Exhibits; “Klan Members Held for Arson,” Lizton Daily Citizen, August 7, 1969, 1; “2 Men Charged in Store Fire,” Indianapolis Star, August 7, 1969, 16; “Local Man Enters Guilty Plea in Fire at ‘Black Market,’” Indiana Daily Student, September 16, 1969, accessed Indiana University Archives Exhibits; “Ex-State Hospital Patient Gents Term in Market Arson,” Indianapolis News, September 18, 1969, 20; “Bench Warrant – Circuit Court,” State of Indiana, Monroe County, Warrant issued for Carlisle Briscoe, Jr., Second Degree Arson, August 6, 1969;  “Bench Warrant – Circuit Court,” State of Indiana, Monroe County, Warrant issued for Jackie Kinser, Second Degree Arson, August 6, 1969; “Criminal Court Docket, Monroe Circuit Court,” Case No. C69-S125, State of Indiana vs. Jackie Kinser and Carlisle Briscoe, Jr., Carlisle Briscoe Enters Guilty Plea, September 15, 1969; “Criminal Court Docket, Monroe Circuit Court,” Case No. C69-S125, State of Indiana vs. Jackie Kinser and Carlisle Briscoe, Jr., Motion to Dismiss charges against Jackie Kinser. March 23, 1971.

“Black Students Plan Black Market Rally; Statement Expected,” Indiana Daily Student, January 19, 1969, 1 Rob Deckard, “Bill for a Black Market Fund Gets Total Approval by Senate,” Indiana Daily Student, January 19, 1969, 1

[4] “Bombed-out Black Market Needs Financial Help,” Indiana Daily Student,” January 7, 1969, 4; “Black Market Needs Financial Help,” Indiana Daily Student, January 7, 1969, accessed Indiana University Archives Exhibits; “Funds Established for Black Market Aid,” Indiana Daily Student, January 8, 1969, 1; “Peace Between Races Dead,” Indiana Daily Student, January 11, 1969, accessed Indiana University Archives Exhibits; “Funds Established to Offset Loss at Black Market,” Indiana Daily student, January 14, 1969, 4; “Bill for a Black Market Fund Gets Total Approval by Senate,” Indiana Daily Student, January 19, 1969, 1; John Gallien, “Frustration – Color it Black,” Indianapolis Star, January 19, 1969, 20; “Black Market Fund Reaches Goal,” Indianapolis Star, January 26, 1969, 19; “IDS Questioned,” January 29, 1969, accessed Indiana University Archives Exhibits, “Contribute To Erase a Shame!,” The Spectator, February 4, 969, 15.

[5] “Dunn Meadow Festival,” The Spectator, 10, no. 4 (February 1970):8, accessed Independent Voices; “People’s Park,” Indiana Daily Student, April 27, 1970, 4; “People’s Park Needs Human Support,” Indiana Daily Student, May 1, 1970, 1; “U.S. Marshal Arrests Canada,” (Columbus) Republic, June 9, 1971, 1; “Night Riders Hit Commune,” (Columbus) Republic, June 16, 1971, 2; “Freedom Fourth,” Indiana Daily Student, July 6, 1971, 1; John Geerlings, “No Action Anticipated for Park,” Indiana Daily Student, July 8, 1971; “Antiwar Rally at Bloomington Today,” (Columbus) Republic, May 10, 1972, 16; “Canada’s Building Opposed,” (Columbus) Republic, May 31, 1975, 5; “People’s Park,” (Columbus) Republic, July 7, 1975, 4; ; Indiana University, Artubus (Bloomington, Indiana: 1969), 111, Indiana University Yearbook Archives, iuyearbook.com; “Offers Bloomington Lot for Art Center,” Indianapolis Star, October 16, 1975, 41, “Bloomington Offered Lot by Canadas,” (Columbus) Republic, October 16, 1975, 24; “Bloomington Mayor Hits Residency Plan,” Indianapolis News, June 25, 1976, 2; “Quit-Claim Deed,” land deeded to the City of Bloomington from Katherine Canada, December 17, 1976; “People’s Park Deeded to City,” Bloomington Daily Telephone, December 19, 1976, 1; ; Indiana University, Artubus (Bloomington, Indiana: 1969), 212-213, Indiana University Yearbook Archives, iuyearbook.com; “Dream to Come True in Musical Park Tour,” Indianapolis News, July 12, 1985, 55; “Motorcycle Gang Fights Youth Violence,” (Lafayette) Journal and Courtier, May 29, 1995, 11.