February 7, 2024

Local cultural tours return for NBA All-Star Weekend

Sampson Levingston hosts local cultural tours in Indianapolis. The return of his Through2Eyes Walk & Talk tour comes just in time for All-Star weekend. - Photo provided by Hanna Leach

Sampson Levingston hosts local cultural tours in Indianapolis. The return of his Through2Eyes Walk & Talk tour comes just in time for All-Star weekend.

Photo provided by Hanna Leach

The NBA All-Star Game comes to Indianapolis soon. A series of arts and cultural events are planned for visitors and residents, including the return of the Through2Eyes cultural tour, with a nod to basketball.

WFYI’s Abriana Herron spoke with Indianapolis Native Sampson Levingston about his Walk & Talk tours for All-Star weekend.

Abriana Herron, WFYI: Why did you start doing these tours around Indianapolis?

Sampson Levingston, Through2Eyes: I felt like it was very important for us in Indianapolis to understand like, who we are as a city. And not just for us to have this internal understanding, but also when people come and visit, we can tell them about ourselves, tell them about our city, tell them who we are, and what roles we played to contributing to the history that's happened all across the world.

Herron: And so what are some of the places and topics you plan on covering during the walk and talk on All Star Weekend?

Levingston: But yeah, so All-Star Weekend, I'm always and if you've been to one of my tours, you know, there's a heightened focus on Black History and African American contribution, that significance, not only in Indianapolis, but worldwide. I want to really talk about why Indianapolis is the perfect place to host the NBA All-Star Game. So we'll look at the transformation of our downtown. And what a cool tool we'll have a Circle Centre Mall to kind of frame how downtime Indianapolis has changed and evolved. You can do that with just the mall. So we're using that area, will you be using Washington Street. And then as the city activates with the basketball, art, and the basketball, storytelling and displays will incorporate that to everything that we're doing.

Herron: What are some of the differences people can expect during this Walk & Talk compared to like BUTTER?

Levingston: Okay, sweet. So, it'll be a little bit longer than the BUTTER walks. Those were quick, it's hot, we're moving, and a little bit shorter than like a traditional one hour Walk & Talk. But, I think what they can expect is a true blend of arts, sports, and history. You know, and I'm going to use the city as my canvas to do that just as the NBA is going to use Indianapolis as their canvas to host the All-Star Game. I'm going to use the city as my canvas to host the Walk & Talks. And so I'm going to try to showcase us as a city as best as I can. But also I want to create a sense of pride for us here in Indianapolis. That we're excited about why we're hosting this All-Star game. I'm just really excited for people to like, feel this energy. I was just walking the route today, like I did came from a route walks. I think, I think it's ready to go.

Herron: That’s exciting.

Levingston: It is. The information keeps going, history happens every single day. History is happening right now, and so I'll never run out of stuff to talk about or do. And so if you don't catch a Walk & Talk in January, because really, there's gonna be walking talks in February, March, April, it just keeps going. Because it's history, it's too important to ignore. And it happens so fast. And there's so much to learn from it, that it's too important to not address it. And so yeah, you can go on a Walk & Talk anytime you want to.

Herron: Even in the cold?

Levingston: Even in the cold, but that’s well heat back up. I’ll just say it's like a baseball season. But you know, once it starts to get warm, they start going out there, they start throwing, they start warming up. And I'm kind of that way with the Walk & Talks where it's like, as we start to thaw out, you'll see me out there more and more. But don't think I haven't been practicing or rolling and going throughout the winter as well.

Herron: Why is it important to highlight local history?

Levingston: I think it's most important to highlight local history because we often hear about history on this global scale. It doesn't feel like you can be a history maker or you can be someone who contributes to history. But when you hear about local history, you realize how the people in your neighborhood, the people in your family, have contributed to making history. And so you take pride in the people who are from the areas you are in and you realize that you have the potential to create an impact that lasts for decades and decades.

Herron: And what do you hope people take away after the All-Star Walk & Talk?

Levingston: I hope they take away that Indianapolis is a city that's trying. You know, to want to host these events, you gotta believe in yourself as the city. To want your city to be on the world stage, essentially the All-Star game. A lot of people they don't want that, a lot of individuals don't want that, a lot of organizations don't want all eyes on them. That's the last thing they want. But in Indianapolis, we're saying look at us, see us, see what we have and see who we are. And so I want people to take away who we are, what we have and know that they can bring what they have, and they value in Indianapolis, and they can take what we have we value back to their city. And let's go play some ball baby. Like let's go. I'm so excited.

Herron: I'm excited to thank you so much, Sampson.

Levingston: Thank you. I appreciate you.

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