Indy Like a Local
Who is Sampson?
An Indiana native and a “lover of Indiana history,” Levingston has earned national attention for his Walk & Talks, casual treks through history-rich pockets of Indianapolis. Book a tour at through2eyes.com
Q. What prompted you to take such an interest in Indiana history?
I’ve always been interested in knowing about what was here before I was, whether that’s here in Indianapolis or in the other Indiana cities that I travel to and from. History is one big story and I like finding where I, and others, fit in.
Q. What was the impetus behind starting the Walk and Talks?
I started during the height of the pandemic, during the protests, and I wanted to get people together. We were outside, socially distanced, and I just needed to tell people why certain people in this country were so angry. I did it in a way that told a story of culture and community – we’re all part of this history! I only thought I would do one Walk & Talk!
Q. Your signature Walk and Talk is Indiana Avenue. Why focus on this area?
It was the hub, the center, of Black community and culture here in Indianapolis. I’m Black, so I started right there, and I love all my Walk & Talks, but nothing compares to the experience on Indiana Avenue.
Q. In researching for the Walk and Talks, what interesting fact did you come across that you didn’t know?
I think just looking at all the businesses, churches, schools, and homes that were lost due to “urban renewal” and the interstate is interesting, to say the least. It’s wild when you really take a deep dive into it.
Q. You’ve done over 200 Walk and Talks since they started. Why do you think people have responded so favorably?
Indy is great; the city feeds upon itself. Even though I’ve been seeing more visitors from out of state recently, my tours are actually built for Indy residents, so they seem to enjoy this history. I don’t really advertise, so friend-to-friend marketing helps me a lot! I’ve also had a lot of great organizations book private Walk & Talks!
Q. What are your future plans for Through2Eyes?
Not quite sure yet. I’m a history guy, remember!
Q. Do you have a favorite historical site in Indianapolis? Any historic “hidden gems” you’ve discovered?
I really enjoy going up to James Whitcomb Riley’s grave at the top of Crown Hill. I like Riley and his poems, he has one that goes like this:
“It hain't no use to grumble and complane;
It's jest as cheap and easy to rejoice.—
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain,
W'y rain's my choice.”
Q. What do you especially recommend that visitors see and do while in Indy?
I like the Cultural Trail, and as a big fan of walking, it’s a tremendous asset to the city of Indianapolis. I recommend just walking the Cultural Trail until you find something that interests you. It’s easier to see things you’ve never noticed before when you’re walking around.