Columbus African American Association



Contact Info

Tom Harmon, President E-mail
Frank Griffin, Vice President: E-mail –


To assist in offering and promoting the African American/African Diaspora culture to the local community in Columbus, Indiana, help them access community resources to positively impact their lives, sponsor services to strengthen their well being and to represent them as appropriate.


  • To provide a portal for participation as a Board member of CAMEO.
  • To education the community about African American life, events and activities in the Columbus community.

Membership Info

Membership in Columbus African American Association (CAAA) is open to all Columbus residents who are of African, American/African descent or related to African Americans or Africans or people who have an interest in the African American Culture.

Activities & Programs

Workshops and social activities targeted towards education, career development and economic development.

Festivals & Celebrations Organized by Association



The majority of African American people in the U.S. have ancestors who were born in Africa. African Diaspora is defined as people of African descent living off the African continent.

Some Africans have recently immigrated to the U.S. from various African countries. The African Continent is the second largest continent in the world and includes 53 diverse countries.

Slave Trade
The transatlantic slave trade, was the trade of primarily African people supplied to the colonies of the New World. It lasted from the 16th century to the 19th century. Most enslaved people were shipped from West Africa and Central Africa and taken to America and the Caribbean Islands. Generally enslaved people were obtained through coastal trading with Africans, though some were captured by European slave traders through raids and kidnapping.

How the slavery trade worked – Triangle
The first side of the triangle was the export of goods from Europe to Africa. A number of African kings and merchants took part in the trading of enslaved people from 1440 to about 1900. For each captive, the African rulers would receive a variety of goods from Europe. These included guns, ammunition and other factory made goods.

The second leg of the triangle exported enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas and the Caribbean Islands.

The third and final part of the triangle was the return of goods to Europe from the Americas. The goods were the products of slave-labor plantations and included cotton, sugar, tobacco, molasses and rum.

The Need for Slaves
The Atlantic Slave Trade was the result of a labor shortage. Native peoples were at first utilized as slave labor by Europeans, until a large number died from overwork and disease. Alternative sources of labor, such as indentured servitude, failed to provide a sufficient workforce. Many crops could not be sold for profit, or even grown, in Europe. Exporting crops and goods from the New World to Europe often proved to be more cost effective than producing them on the European mainland. A vast amount of labor was needed for the plantations in the intensive growing, harvesting and processing of these prized tropical crops.

Western and Central Africa became the source for enslaved people to meet the demand for labor. The basic reason for the constant shortage of labor was that, with large amounts of cheap land available and lots of landowners searching for workers, free European immigrants were able to become landowners themselves after a relatively short time, thus increasing the need for workers

Capturing Slaves
Several African nations such as the Ashanti of Ghana and the Yoruba of Nigeria had economies largely depending on the slave trade. African peoples such as the Imbangala of Angola and the Nyamwezi of Tanzania would serve as intermediaries or roving bands warring with other African nations to capture Africans for Europeans. There were also Africans who had made a business out of capturing other Africans and selling them.

Europeans provided a large new market for an already existing trade. And while an African held in slavery in his own region of Africa might escape, a person shipped away was sure never to return.

Europeans rarely entered the interior of Africa, due to fear of disease and fierce African resistance. The enslaved people would be brought to coastal outposts where they would be traded for goods.


Over 600 African Americans live in Bartholomew County. Most are English speaking and practice various religions.

Customs, Traditions & Celebrations

Kwanzaa is a national holiday celebrated by many African-Americans beginning December 26-January 1. The holiday was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in San Diego in 1966, during the period of US history in which African-Americans were involved in struggles for their civil rights. This was the period of Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power.

The word Kwanzaa comes from the words “Matunda ya Kwanza” in Kiswahill or Swahilli language and means “First Fruits.”The Kwanzaa holiday combines elements from African culture and African-American experiences.

While the celebration of first fruits is done in Africa to thank the Creator for blessing his people with food, the Kwanzaa holiday in America is celebrated in seven days to reaffirm and restore African heritage and culture, to introduce the Nguzo Saba principles, and to serve as an annual opportunity for African-Americans reinforce our bond as a people.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. The celebration dates back to 1865. On June 19th Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon granger, landed at Galveston, TX with news that the Civil War has ended and that all slaves were free. It commemorates freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a time of celebrations, picnics, family and guest gatherings.

Certain foods are popular and synonymous with Juneteenth such as strawberry pop, barbecuing lamb, pork and beef and everyone prepares a special dish to share. Dress is very important because of the limits made on the dressing of slaves. Many slaves tossed their ragged garments into creeks and rivers and adorned themselves with clothing taken from plantations of their former masters.

Juneteenth is a time for reflection, rejoicing, assessment, improvement, and planning for the future.

Juneteenth Area Celebrations
Organized the the NAACP.

Dr. Martin Luther King Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States holiday marking the birthdate of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. It is one of three United States federal holidays to commemorate an individual person.

King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. He was assassinated in 1968.

Martin Luther King Day – Area Celebrations
Mayor’s Dr. Martin Luther King Community Breakfast.

Calvary Community Church, MLK Scholarship Program.


The African American life style is a community of strong family ties and values. Our heritage has a strong religious base. We enjoy many American foods and have a reputation for good southern home cooking. We enjoy sporting activities of U.S. origin.

Many of the foods we enjoy in America today were brought from Africa such as yams or sweet potatoes, okra and peanuts. Some were brought over to the U.S. by slaves. 

Our heritage has a strong religious base . Americans’ contributions are deeply rooted in almost every facet of building this country – from scientists, inventors, artists and educators.

Additional information regarding the African American culture can be found at:

More can be learned about African Diaspora

More can be learned about the African Continent at:
The page moves into a discussion of Africans in the U.S. and the impact of slavery. 

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Bartholomew County Office
United Way Center
1531 13th Street, Ste. 1310
Columbus, IN 47201
President: Gwen Wiggins
(812) 376-6498

National Urban League

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
50 East Freedom Way
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, 
Phone: 513.333.7500 or Toll Free: 877.648.483

Columbus Enrichment Program
Tutoring program for children grades K-12 grade. Students work individually and in small groups with volunteer tutors. Classes are held from 10:00 a.m.- Noon on Saturdays 
Second Baptist Church
1325 Tenth Street
Columbus, IN 47201
Contact: Paulette Roberts 342-2722  or

African American History
Information on Underground Railroad in Bartholomew Cty
Paulette Roberts
1214 Blackhawk Drive
Columbus, IN 47201
(812) 342-2722

African American Churches

Second Baptist Church (African American Church built in the late 1800’s)
1325 Tenth Street
Columbus, IN 47202-2082
(812) 376-8956
Pastor: Rev. Larry F. Rowe

Calvary Community Church
1031 Chestnut Street
Columbus, IN 47201
(812) 372-3077
Pastor: Bishop Charles A. Sims & Dr. Jane Sims
Associate Pastor: Mr. Frank Griffin

Corinthian Baptist Church
North Vernon, IN 47265
Local Coordinator: Paulette Young, 
3033 Desoto Way, Columbus, IN 47203
(812) 376-3978 H (812) 314-3510 W

Dayspring Church of God
2595 Eastwood Drive
Columbus, IN 47203
(812) 372-9336
Pastor: David C. Bosley,

Faith, Hope & Love Church of God in Christ
P. O. Box 2141
Columbus, IN 47202
(812) 375-8865
Pastor: Pastor Mike Harris, mike.harris@cummins
Outreach Coordinator: Adrian Jenkins,

Faith Ministries, Inc.
5103 W. State Road 46
Columbus IN 47201
(812) 342-4412
Pastor: Jarvis Cooper or
Assoc. Pastor: Tony McClendon
Assoc Pastor: Wayne Hanrattie

God’s House Missionary Baptist Church
438 8th Street
Columbus, IN 47201
(812) 378-2123
Pastor: Rev. Allen D. Young

Holy Refuge Church of God in Christ
Pastor: George T. Jackson Jr.
(812) 376-9024

Other Faiths
 – Islam
(Please note: The following organization does not recognize nor use, ‘black’, African-american or ‘church’. Their faith is Islam and their nationality is Moorish-American.)

Moorish Science Temple of America
4143 N. 650 E.
Hope IN 47246
David Johnson-Bey
(Temple) 546-1107
(Home) 546-4811

Word of Mouth Catering
Fair Oaks Mall
(812) 379-1192

Jade’s Beauty Salon
3009 25th Street
Columbus, IN 47203
Debra Griffin, Owner

State Farm Insurance 
4080 25th Street
Columbus, IN 47203-3161
(812) 372-0731
Gil Palmer, agent

Toxicology One
2321 N. Marr Road
(812) 372-6501
Columbus, IN 47203
Reagan Guy, Owner