I recently had an opportunity to catch up with one of Indy’s most influential legendary individuals the City has ever known, Mr. Joe Newman, ABA CEO. Joe’s list of accomplishments are long enough to create a mini-novel; and as I hung onto his every word, I’m sharing this Icon’s experience with you in the hopes of motivating you to never stop climbing, always pursue your purpose & passion, and most importantly, never ever give up and always offer a hand up to someone in need.
As we sat down to begin the interview, Joe offered me his infamous ABA basketball personally autographed by him. I was very moved and touch by this gesture. This is why my first question to this humble guy with such a big heart was; Joe, what motivates you? What drives you to do all the things you’ve done for the African American Community? Joe began his answer in a very matter-of-fact manner like this is something everyone should know, share and shape their behaviors around. He said, “I believe everyone should be treated with respect. Every baby born should have an opportunity to accomplish their goals and live a life of enrichment and fulfillment. With the right education, housing, encouragement, and support, I believe anyone can become successful which is why I’m a strong supporter of diversification, inclusion, and equal opportunity. I don’t see race, color, or gender. I see people; and that’s why I’ve worked hard to offer everyone an opportunity to live their dreams.” What an impressive answer.
I was in awe as he began talking about the many individuals he had helped along his long journey of life changing relationship building. Joe has owned numerous radio stations, and purchased the first black radio station in Las Vegas during the era of legends like Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dorothy Dandridge. But with all their fame, the iconic entertainers weren’t allowed to be guests of the large hotels in which they performed. Joe was instrumental in changing the mindsets and racist behaviors of the decision makers of those establishments by purchasing the first black radio station in Vegas, and gradually introducing African American talent giving many minorities opportunities. Even though Joe had to start it with his own Mother as the main radio personality in the coveted “drive-at-five” time slot, he was able to begin the start of changes in our history that became legendary for the civil rights movement.
Indianapolis was fortunate in having Joe start one of his many advertising companies which evolved into him purchasing radio stations of all music genres; and this started a major landslide of unbelievable talent as he began to come in contact with notable greats – many of Indy’s iconic movers and shakers long before they became household names, i.e., Amos Brown, Al Hobbs, and Rickie “Solid Gold” Clark. Joe also met the young Ed O’Bannon, Chuck Broadus, Charles Williams, Bill Mays, and many other Indy icons long before they became household names. Joe’s involvement in the early days of WTLC radio was instrumental in the hiring of numerous minorities, and he attributes all of his incredibly diverse mindset and behaviors, during a time when civil rights were invisible (60’s and 70’s), to his upbringing and his parents.
Joe was truly a renaissance man and owner of several advertising companies, and was also the Founder and CEO of the ABA. Just one of his many accomplishments as ABA CEO included globalizing the ABA by launching the ABA Global initiative and expanding the league from a measly seven teams to an outstanding eighty-two teams. Newman not only founded the ABA, but also owned his own franchise, the Indiana Legends. The team would play for two seasons before folding.
Joe Newman’s national and local contributions to the Indiana Community deserve to be recognized with service awards for his contributions to the Community as well as the ABA.
Joe also started Bully-Free ABA after his grandchildren became victims of bullying. The program featured players visiting schools to share stories about their own experiences with bullying and how such issues can be solved.
Even though Joe Newman has been in “the business and sports games” for many decades, he is still making a difference and changing lives – not just for minorities but for everyone who is fortunate enough to know him.