Tour Guide Sampson Levingston Puts His Best Foot Forward

Sampson Levingston, Indiana Tour GuideHave you been a Hoosier your entire life?

I was born and raised in Indiana. I grew up in Lawrence and went to Cathedral High School. I was a football player throughout my high school and my university years.

I’m assuming you were a history major in college?

I was actually a marketing major at Indiana State University. People are typically confused when they find out I was not a history major. My first marketing job was at White River State Park, which was right up my alley, being outdoors and full of wonderment. I loved my time there and did that for about two years.

As my time at the park came to an end, I started doing some freelance marketing work and social media jobs here and there. I enjoyed it but wasn’t passionate about the jobs I was being assigned. So on the side, I started an Indiana-focused history blog. One of my main goals was to show that you can discover yourself through history.

Not the typical career path one would think. So why history?

I wanted people to understand that if you discover where you are then you discover who you are. So I traveled through Indiana discovering bits and pieces of the land while documenting it through videos. When I started getting more freelance contracts, I lost the joy of maintaining the blog because I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to its upkeep. I decided I was going to have to put it on hold.

How long was the blog on hiatus?

Once the pandemic hit, it gave me time to focus on what I truly enjoyed, and that’s when I came up with the idea to take it to the streets with my Walk & Talks.

The walks started in 2020, so they are still new. I began writing about Indiana history five years ago. I never thought that I would be able to share my knowledge of Indiana history through Walk & Talks full time. I have finally found that niche in Indianapolis.

So tell me a little about the Walk & Talk merchandise you can find on your website

I just knew I wanted to mimic that quintessential college logo that is a representation of a kind of culture. Like the walks, participants leave with knowledge and information that is new to them and become sort of alumni.

I notice you are not shy when it comes to fashion. Do you have a certain aesthetic when it comes to style?

Not really. You can find me in fun, flowy pants with some crazy print, and a big oversized shirt. I always ask for the biggest shirt available. I need to be as free-moving as possible since I’m doing animated storytelling all day.

Do you have a spot in town where you like to find some of your flair?

There is a local shop called Retro Metro and Notorious Vintage on 46th and Binford Boulevard that I started going to a lot. The ladies that work there love showing me new earrings when I come in. When I showed them pictures of me on my Walk & Talks, they got excited to help me find new accessories to throw into my rotation.

What makes your walks so memorable?

I want these walks to be educational and for people to remember who guided them through the experience. Whether it’s my collection of vintage oversized pants or an umbrella hat I wore that day, they will remember the experience as unique. I like to live by the “freedom of expression” words vocalized by Kurt Vonnegut. On my walks, you are going to learn things you’ve never heard before. I want people to be vulnerable and OK with asking questions, or to share what they may have learned elsewhere.

All in all, it’s about expressing yourself. Style is its own form of communication. The way you dress can set a vibe, and I want to create a raw and authentic environment for the walks.

Do you ever dress according to a theme based on one of your locations?

Walktober! During the month of October is the best time to have fun with costumes … One of my favorites is when I dressed up as the Big O, Oscar Robertson, while touring the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse is where he led the first all-Black high school ever to win a state championship.