Public art and history tours that highlight the lives, accomplishments and sacrifices of the African American Experience in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky 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.
In addition to the public art exhibits, many historical museums, clubs and neighborhood associations have blazed trails and walking tours that also highlight landmarks that memorialize the contributions of Black Cincinnatians throughout African American neighborhoods.
The Hands that Built Our City
525 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Downtown Cincinnati)
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, which highlights the hands of the workers featured in the famous Union Terminal mosaic murals by Winold Reiss and was painted to mimic the look of real 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, who 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.
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, created in partnership with Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, was part of a larger public art and awareness project led by ArtWorks and Strategies to End Homelessness. The Faces of Homelessness project looked to use the power of art to bring awareness to the issues of housing and homelessness in Cincinnati and to break down stereotypes around who experiences homelessness – Blacks, Whites, and more – and why through the creation of this permanent mural and other temporary installations and engagement events.
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.
Related to Public Art and History Tours: Why So Many Black Americans Have Roots in the West End of Cincinnati
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.
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 put in place by the Jim Crow Laws and move towards equality.
3371 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45229 (Avondale)
Powered by the NEP and PIVOT initiative, Avondale residents asked the City of Cincinnati, the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, and ArtWorks to create this mural in celebration of African American heroes in Avondale. Lead designer and former Avondale resident, James Pate, worked with ArtWorks to engage community members to shape the design of the mural, 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. The west-facing wall is inspired by a historic image of 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 to represent the diverse community, the elders, and the youth. Together, they open pages of a book with a bright image of the sun illuminating a path to a hope-filled future.
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, a man, and a young girl on his shoulders, embodies the empowering history of the community and the bright prospects of the future.
Black Excellence in Zone 15
1201 Steffen Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45215 (Lincoln Heights)
ArtWorks was proud to partner with The Heights Movement, the village of Lincoln Heights, and ArtsWave on Black Excellence in Zone 15. Lincoln Heights is the first self-governing African American community above the Mason-Dixon Line and has a rich history of Black men and women Olympians, politicians, scholars, and artists.
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.
- Annie Ruth, Bailey, and Skye at Avondale Business Center, Avondale – 3635 Reading Road
- Nancy, Crystal, and Taren at Cream + Sugar Coffeehouse, Evanston – 3546 Montgomery Road
- Aliah at The Welcome Project, Camp Washington – 2936 Colerain Avenue
- Ewaniki and Adalia at CampSITE Sculpture Park, Cumminsville — 2866 Colerain Avenue
- Bebe and Nia at Artsville, Madisonville – 5021 Whetsel Avenue
- Schera and Amber at New Generations Banquet Hall, Bond Hill – 4595 Paddock Road
- Aprina, Kimberly and Honour at The Neighborhood House, West End – 901 Findlay Street
- Sesheta at a private residence, West End – 1801 Baymiller Street
- Kimberly at a private residence, West End – 1900 Baymiller Street
African American Tours:
The Queen City has a rich black history, and several attractions and tours lead by historians that highlight the culture African Americans contributed to Cincinnati. Covering several hundred years of African American history each tour can teach you something different from slavery and slaves within the slave trade, to the civil war, to the emancipation proclamation, to Dr. Martin Luther King, to the Black Power movement, and people of African descent who should be celebrated during Black history month.
Walking Tour Abolitionists and African Americans in Walnut Hills
Tickets range from free admission to $6.
Learn about the women and men who built the Queen City and Walnut Hills and invested in this neighborhood for the past 200 years from educators. This walk will last just under 2 hours and cover about 1.3 miles. The walking tour starts and ends in Walnut Hills.
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Covington Black History Tour
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 are celebrated in the city’s art and architecture.
University of Cincinnati – African American Cultural and Research Center (AACRC)
Free general admission
On the brink of its 30th year, 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 and has become a known resource for various organizations on campus and in the Greater Cincinnati community.
Over-the-Rhine African American History
Tickets are $15.00
Beginning with early abolitionist efforts in Over-the-Rhine in the early 19th century, this tour highlights the active role of African Americans in shaping Over-the-Rhine. The tour includes African American leadership, family life, leisure, education, discrimination, working conditions and pays special attention to recent social activism. This tour begins at Ziegler Park.
Related to Public Art and History Tours: Stories of the Underground Railroad to escape being enslaved and the Important Ties to Cincinnati
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 for 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 collection of the National Gallery of Art. 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 peoples 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 major contributor to the arts community in the Midwest. Film, music, literature, dance and displays of all kinds can be found throughout the state representing nearly every race, ethnicity, age, gender and cultural background.
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.