Crispus Attucks’ Laverne Newsome an unforgettable educator
If you’re listing influential instructors of Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, Laverne Edward Newsome is easily near the top.
Newsome, a violinist, had impressive credentials, including a master’s degree from Northwestern University School of Music.
He served with the 371st Infantry Regiment, 92nd “Buffalo” Division, where he was also regimental band director from 1942 to 1945.
After the war, he and wife Maenel Hamlin moved to Indianapolis, where they had once been denied entry to the Indianapolis Philharmonic Orchestra, according to Raleigh Sutton, author of “From Africa to Illinois.”
Ironically, Newsome was then employed by the Orchestra from 1947-1992, Sutton writes.
He taught music at Crispus Attucks High School from 1937 to 1974, where his pupils included Indiana Avenue legends, JJ Johnson and Wes Montgomery and noted contemporary jazz guitarist Steven Weakley.
“Mr. Newsome provided encouragement, guidance, hope, a sense of direction, and a sense of worth to me and countless black youths who were under his tutelage," wrote another famous former student, Professor David Baker.
He taught at Alabama's Talladega College until his move to Indianapolis.
His obituary noted: “Newsome founded and directed the string ensemble at Light of the World Christian Church.He organized the Music Stars of Tomorrow, an annual recital for advanced students. He received several awards, including the Prelude Award from The Children's Museum, the Phillips Service to Music Award from the Indianapolis Symphonic Band, the Jazz Hall of Fame Award from the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation, and the Wes Montgomery Award for Educational Leadership from the city of Indianapolis. Mr Newsome received bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University and was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.In 2001, Wabash College awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters from outstanding contributions to the cultural life of the Indianapolis community.”
Laverne Edward Newsome (October 21, 1907-August 27, 2001)
📸 Photograph of LaVerne E. Newsome with his violin class at Crispus Attucks School in Indianapolis, Indiana.