INDIANAPOLIS – Whether it’s a building or a person, Eunice Trotter knows everything has a story.
“I was probably a precocious nosey child, so I liked finding out stuff,” Trotter said.
Curious by nature, Trotter began planting the seeds of her journalism career at an early age. As a teenager, she landed her first assignment working at The Indianapolis Recorder, one of the nation’s longstanding Black publications, which was then located on Indiana Avenue.
“It wasn’t called an internship at the time, it was called a cub, C-U-B, reporter,” she said. “That entailed running errands for the editors, and not just the people at The Recorder, but I found myself being a messenger, so to speak, for businesses that were surrounding The Recorder.”
Beyond just running errands, Trotter also had her hand in helping tell stories. As a teen, she wrote columns focused on teenage topics of interest and Indy nightlife. During that time, she’d also cross paths with some of the most iconic names in entertainment, like James Brown and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.
“It allowed me to interview a lot of musicians, some who are no longer with us, who really went on to make huge names for themselves. So, I just really enjoy the fact that I was able to be a part of recording and capturing that history,” she said.
Though impressive, Trotter’s accolades extend far beyond the names she’s interviewed.
After graduating with her journalism degree from Indiana University Southeast, Trotter began work as an entry-level reporter with The Indianapolis Star in 1976.
“The newsroom had very few people who looked like me,” Trotter recalled. “I worked my way up through the ranks and began covering beats there. The police beat, you know, city hall.”
By the early 80s, Trotter made history when she was offered an editor position, becoming the paper’s first African American to take on the role. About 10 years later, she’d go on to buy controlling interest of The Recorder, the same place that gave her a start as a teen.
“Boy, I tell ya, that was a whirlwind life experience,” said Trotter. “We converted The Recorder from typewriters to computers, and you know, we became a full-color publication with multiple sections. We revived some of the community-related events.”
By 1991, Trotter sold her interest and went on to work for other newspapers across the country. Eventually, all roads led back home to Indy when she returned home in 2002.
During her time at home, Trotter said her love for research ultimately led to her first book, “Black in Indiana”. Published in 2020, the book profiles her ancestor’s 1821 lawsuit, which Trotter said helped end slavery in the state.
“Slavery was known better as indentured servitude here in Indiana because keep in mind, Indiana was supposed to be a free state, but it was not,” she said.
These days, through her skills in research and finding the truth, Trotter spends her time helping connect others to their own ancestors and history. Working alongside other groups, she’s helped people find their roots through free genealogy workshops. As executive director of the Indiana Landmarks Black Heritage Preservation Program, Trotter has also helped save historically Black spaces through grant funding and projects.
“My job is to preserve Black heritage statewide and doing that it takes many forms and many paths,” she said.
However, despite her many hats, whether it be journalist, preservationist or a Remarkable Woman finalist, Trotter said her greatest honor is helping others find their own stories to tell and preserve for future generations.
“That is so important that we, as the older generation, pass along values, and morals, and motivation, skills, and knowledge and history to our children,” she said. “I look at that as my number one achievement.”