The Black Brigade

Black Brigade Monument at Smale Riverfront Park (photo: CincinnatiUSA.com)
Black Brigade Monument at Smale Riverfront Park (photo: CincinnatiUSA.com)

The Black Brigade was formed in 1862 during the Civil War to construct barricades to defend Cincinnati from Confederate attack. Initially, members were forced into service, but after a public outcry, African-American men volunteered and formed The Black Brigade. You can visit a monument to the brigade's efforts at Smale Riverfront Park, consisting of bronze statues and plaques, interpretive signs, and carved stones which include the names of all 718 members of the brigade.

Black-Owned Restaurants

BlaCk Coffee
BlaCk Coffee

Support local and Black-owned restaurants this month and all year long. Click here for a list of Black-owned restaurants serving up everything from coffee and pastries to barbeque to Southern foods.

Cincinnati Public Library

Book Fountain at Main Library (photo: Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)
Book Fountain at Main Library (photo: Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

The Cincinnati Public Library honors Black History Month with a variety of events all month in several area branch locations. Also, from famous singers to abolitionists to journalists and photographers, the library has put together a list of 19th Century Black Cincinnatians You Should Know.

Covington Black History Tour

James Bradley Statue on the Riverside Drive Statue Tour (photo: CincinnatiUSA.com)
James Bradley Statue on the Riverside Drive Statue Tour (photo: CincinnatiUSA.com)

Developed by the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission, this self-guided walking tour includes 18 spots around Covington, Ky., that highlight the history and accomplishments of African Americans in the city. The tour includes landmarks like the statue of James Bradley, a former slave who worked his way to freedom and broke racial barriers in the world of education; and Randolph Park, named after the first African American on the staff of St. Elizabeth HospitalDr. James Randolph.

Harriet Beecher Stowe House

Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in Cincinnati during the formative years that led to her writing the anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Schedule a visit or take a virtual tour of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House to learn more about the author, the Underground Railroad, and the historic site that was listed in the Green Book in the 1930s and 40s. 

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (photo: Farshid Assassi)
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (photo: Farshid Assassi)

Standing as a monument to freedom, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center brings to life the importance – and relevance – of struggles for freedom around the world, throughout history and today. For Black History Month 2022, the Freedom Center has events planned all month long including a New Orleans Mardi Gras concert on Feb. 5, a panel discussion on the health on wellness of African Americans on Feb. 12, a program titled U.S. Grant, The Civil Rights General & President as part of Ohio’s U.S. Grant Bicentennial Birthday Celebration and the Food for Freedom virtual discussion tying into 2022 Black History Month theme of Black Health and Wellness, celebrating the activities, rituals and initiatives Black communities have created to be well.

You can also visit the Freedom Center in person or explore online exhibits. And click here to take a photo tour of some of the Freedom Center's pivotal exhibits.

Under One Roof: The African American Experience in Music Hall

Music Hall (photo: Mark Lyons)
Music Hall (photo: Mark Lyons)

This one-hour presentation by the Friends of Music Hall explores the history of African Americans, like Duke Ellington and Ezzard Charles, who helped forge the culture and character of Music Hall and the Cincinnati community. The presentation and a virtual tour of Music Hall can be scheduled through the Friends of Music Hall Speakers Series.

More Black History

Allen Temple AME Church was the first organized Black congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains when it was formed in 1824.

The Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World (IBPOEW) was formed in Cincinnati in 1898 and today, IBPOEW boasts 500,000 members in over 1,500 lodges worldwide making it the largest Black fraternal organization in the world.

Union Baptist Church is the oldest African American Baptist church in Cincinnati. During the 1800s, the church served as a sanctuary for Black men and women crossing the Ohio River to escape slavery. The church provided them with food and clothing and set up a school to teach reading and writing. The church also runs United American Cemetery where many notable African Americans are buried including Underground Railroad conductors and abolitionists.