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Design-Focused HBCU Has Roots in Indy    

2024-02-18 – BE&O IF

The Pensole Lewis College in Detroit is the only design-focused HBCU in the country, and it traces its roots to Indianapolis. 

The college was founded in Indianapolis in 1928 as the Lewis Business College. Its focus was preparing young Black women to become secretaries in offices across the city. Eleven years later, a second location was opened in Detroit. But after the school fell on hard times a decade ago, Dr. D’Wayne Edwards merged the college with his Portland, Oregon-based design academy.       

Dr. Edwards currently serves as the President of The Pensole Lewis College, and he says the goal of the school is to share industry knowledge with young Black students who have an interest in designing contemporary sneakers.    

Dr. Edwards says many students enter the program not knowing they can pursue a career in sneaker design. But they soon learn there is an entire world to creating, designing, and distributing the shoes across the world. 

Today, Pensole Lewis College is credited with paving the way for young Black design talent to have a career in the sneaker industry and is preparing the largest talent pool of designers to enter the industry. 
To learn more about Pensole Lewis College and its sneaker design program, visit