Share this:

Public Art and History Tours for African Americans in Cincinnati


Public art and history tours highlight the lives, accomplishments, and sacrifices of the African American Experience. These public art and history tours are in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky and appear throughout the region. ArtWorks has designed and installed more than 50 public art exhibits that tell the untold stories of African Americans’ contributions to the rich history and vibrancy of the greater Cincinnati region.


Public art exhibits, many historical museums, clubs, and neighborhood associations have blazed trails for teaching history. Walking tours continue to highlight landmarks that memorialize the contributions of Black Cincinnatians throughout African American neighborhoods.


Receive our newsletter for all things Black Cincinnati!


African American Public Art


The Hands that Built Our City

525 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Downtown Cincinnati)
The city of Cincinnati local government and The Duke Energy Convention Center welcome thousands of visitors each year and want them all to know they are in Cincinnati, a historically creative and industrious town. To continue their longtime support of the arts, they partnered with ArtWorks to create this colorful mural, highlighting the workers’ hands featured in the famous Union Terminal mosaic murals by Winold Reiss and painted to mimic the look of natural tile.


The Face of the Arts

1100 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Over-The-Rhine)
With the support of the Cincinnati government, P&G, and other supporters the mural was created by young apprentices and teaching assistants under the direction of Tim Parsley the project manager.


The Buzz Around Town

1010 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Over-The-Rhine)
In honor of Scripps National Spelling Bee’s 90th anniversary, ArtWorks produced a mural to honor and reflect the Cincinnati-based program’s mission and spirit, celebrating what has made this international event so meaningful.


Time Saved vs. Time Served

235 W. Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Over-The-Rhine)
ArtWorks painted a mural that celebrates and uplifts white, Hispanic, and African American women who are returning citizens. These women have previously been incarcerated. This mural depicts women living in our community who have returned home, became leaders, and sought to break down the stigma surrounding those with criminal records who have re-entered society.



Related Article: Learn more about your heritage with these Cincinnati Black historic sites.



Ezzard Charles: The Cincinnati Cobra

1537 Republic Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Over-The-Rhine)
Ezzard Charles, known as the “Cincinnati Cobra,” was a two-time World Heavyweight Champion, jazz musician, and widely respected citizen of Cincinnati and the Black community.


Faces of Homelessness

1225 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Over-The-Rhine)
This mural was part of a more extensive awareness project led by ArtWorks and Strategies to End Homelessness. The project looked to use the power of art to bring awareness to housing and homelessness in Cincinnati. It also breaks down stereotypes about those who experience homelessness.


Mr. Dynamite

1437 Main Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Pendleton)
James Brown is regarded as one of the most iconic and influential musicians of the 20th century and a great contributor to Black people and black history. Brown spent the formative years of his career on the Cincinnati-based King Records, producing some of his earliest hits and providing inspiration and guidance to a generation of musicians.


Dreaming Blues

309 E. 13th Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Pendleton)
Mamie Smith—a legend, icon, and Cincinnati native—was the first African American blues recording artist. In celebration of her remarkable contributions to the American sound of rhythm and blues and her significant place in Cincinnati’s musical history, ArtWorks commissioned Buffalo, New York-based artist Julia Bottoms to create this piece that authentically sings out Mamie’s story and legacy.


From Enslavement to Emancipation: Sky’s The Limit 

1001 Lincoln Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45206 (Walnut Hills)
The mural represents the existing vibrancy of the neighborhood of Walnut Hills and celebrates the neighborhood rich in Black History and community pride. The mural location sits on the site of The Manse Hotel, one of the listed safe lodgings for African American travelers, listed in Victor Green’s “Negro Motorist Green Book”.



Related Article: African American museums to visit across the country.



A Song of Freedom

3630 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45229 (Avondale)
In partnership with the Avondale Community, ArtWorks has created public artworks to reflect community traditions, stories, and culture and provide employment opportunities for neighborhood residents. This mural is a tribute to the life and legacy of the late Louise Shropshire, an Avondale resident and activist during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement when everything was segregated. Activists worked to end racism and segregation by the Jim Crow Laws and move toward equality.


Avondale Heroes

3371 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45229 (Avondale)
 Avondale residents asked ArtWorks to create this mural celebrating African American heroes in Avondale. Lead designer and former Avondale resident James Pate worked with ArtWorks to engage community members to shape the mural’s design, which spotlights the professions of everyday neighborhood heroes such as mothers, barbers, students, police officers, clergy members, and more.


On the Shoulders of Giants

959 W 8th Cincinnati, OH 45203 (Queensgate)
This mural honors the tradition and legacy of service from the Cincinnati and Hamilton County police forces. A historical image inspires the west-facing wall. The image depicts a police officer with his sidekick, the first-ever Cincinnati police dog.


All You Can Imagine Is Real

1515 Carll Street, Cincinnati, OH 45225 (Fairmount)
Resting upon North Fairmount’s history and surroundings, two larger-than-life portraits stand. The portraits represent the diverse community, the elders, and the youth. Together, they open the pages of a book. A bright image of the sun illuminates a path to a hope-filled future.



Related Article: Black History Movies your family can enjoy!



What Are the Lyrics to Your Song?

3564 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45207 (Evanston)
Drawing from the unique Black history of Evanston, this mural honors the history of King Records and hopes to inspire today’s youth. The mural’s imagery embodies the empowering history of the community and the bright prospects of the future.


Heart of the Community

3301 Beekman Street, Cincinnati, OH 45225 (Millvale)
A local group of youth apprentices and teaching assistants created the painting.


Black Excellence in Zone 15

1201 Steffen Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45215 (Lincoln Heights)
ArtWorks was proud to partner with The Heights Movement. Lincoln Heights is the first self-governing African American community above the Mason-Dixon Line. It has a rich history of Black men and women Olympians, politicians, scholars, and artists.



Related Article: OTR Cincinnati and the recurring history of racial tensions and economic divide.



Heart & Soul

FotoFocus Cincinnati awarded ArtWorks with a grant to create a photo-based project this summer after the cancelation of the biennial. ArtWorks called upon photographer Nikita Gross to lead a team of eight Youth Apprentices to create the inspiring photo installation, Heart and Soul. Heart and Soul is a series of wheat-pasted mini-murals featuring Black women from Cincinnati amplifying their stories, voices, and faces.



African American Tours

The Queen City has a rich Black history. Several attractions and tours led by historians highlight the culture African Americans contributed to Cincinnati. Covering several hundred years of African American history, each tour can teach you something different.


Learn about slavery and slaves within the slave trade. Learn about the civil war, the emancipation proclamation, Dr. Martin Luther King, and even the Black Power movement. People of African descent should be celebrated during Black history month.


Walking Tour Abolitionists and African Americans in Walnut Hills

Family Friendly
Walnut Hills
Tickets range from free admission to $6.
Learn about the women and men who built the Queen City and Walnut Hills. They have invested in the neighborhood for the past 200 years. This walk will last just under two hours and cover about 1.3 miles. The walking tour starts and ends in Walnut Hills.
Facebook reviews, Yelp reviews


Covington Black History Tour

Family Friendly
Free general admission
Covington has always had a large, engaged African American population. This walking tour highlights the history and accomplishments of African Americans in Northern Kentucky. Many accomplishments are celebrated in the city’s art and architecture.



Related Article: Why so many African Americans have roots in the West End of Cincinnati.



University of Cincinnati – African American Cultural and Research Center (AACRC)

Adult/Campus Friendly
Free general admission
The AACRC is poised to become a model for cultural and racial understanding in higher education. The Center serves as a resource for enlightenment about the Black experience. It has become a known resource for various organizations on campus and in the Greater Cincinnati community.
Facebook reviews


Over-the-Rhine African American History

Family Friendly
Tickets are $15.00
This tour begins with early abolitionist efforts in Over-the-Rhine in the early 19th century. It highlights the active role of African Americans in shaping Over-the-Rhine. The tour includes African American leadership, family life, leisure, education, discrimination, and working conditions. It pays special attention to recent social activism. This tour begins at Ziegler Park.



Related Article: Explore Black History in Kentucky



With funding, services, and advocacy, ArtsWave fuels a more vibrant regional economy and connected community through the arts. The Cincinnati Arts Association offers and administers grants to help defray the cost of their Artists on Tour and School Time programs. The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.


In addition, these public art and history tours explore a selection of works by African American artists included in the National Gallery of Art collection. The National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA) is a private, not-for-profit institution committed to preserving and fostering the cultural arts heritage of black people worldwide. Check out these famous artists from the University of Cincinnati.


With hundreds of museums, theaters, and performing arts organizations throughout the state, Ohio is a significant contributor to the arts community in the Midwest. Film, music, literature, dance, and displays of all kinds can be found throughout the state. These displays represent every race, ethnicity, age, gender, and cultural background.



Written by: Crystal Kendrick


The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize, and create opportunities for African Americans. Want to find local news, events, job posting, scholarships, and a database of local Black-owned businesses? Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and text VOBC to 513-270-3880.


Artworks provide public art and history tour images.

Share this:

Comments are closed.