People make a place a great place to live and visit. In February, we honor the Black history, the people, and the places that make Cincy unique. Discover Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky museums, performances, restaurants, and more to celebrate Black History Month this February. 

Black history museums and historic sights in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

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: Morgan Pelt)National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Photo: Morgan Pelt)

Standing as a monument to freedom, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center brings to life the importance, and relevance, of struggles for freedom worldwide throughout history and today. For Black History Month 2024, the Freedom Center has events planned all month long including documentary films and an educational roundtable featuring a discussion about the importance of teaching inclusion, social justice, and diversity in schools.

Enjoy free admission on Fifth Third Community Day, February 18.  Visit the Freedom Center in person or explore online exhibits. Check out their full events calendar here or take a photo tour of some of the Freedom Center's pivotal exhibits.

The Black Brigade

Black Brigade Monument at Smale Riverfront Park (photo:
Black Brigade Monument at Smale Riverfront Park (photo: Visit Cincy)

The Black Brigade was formed in 1862 during the Civil War to construct barricades to defend Cincinnati from Confederate attacks. Initially, members were forced into service, but after a public outcry, African-American men volunteered and formed The Black Brigade. Peter H. Clark is the author of the first account of 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. 

Clermont County Freedom Trail

Explore the 42 historical sites of Clermont County Freedom Trail, 22 of which are included in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. This self-guided journey highlights one of the largest Network to Freedom programs in the nation today. Sign up to receive the Clermont County Freedom Trail mobile passport and start exploring.  

Allen Temple AME Church

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

Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World

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 

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. In 1876, George Washington Williams, Ohio’s first African American legislator, became pastor of Union Baptist Church.

Black History Month events in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

  • February 2nd: Is it Black Enough for You? Film and Discussion Documentary exploring the evolution of Black representation in American cinema with a specific focus on Blaxploitation films of the 1970s.

  • February 8th: Freedom By the Sword: The US Colored Troops and Camp Nelson During the Civil War A free, online event. Park Ranger Steve Phan details the complex evolution of African American military service in Kentucky.

  • February 10th: Warriors of Bronze and Fire A presentation and demonstration on the many contributions of the Black community to martial arts in the United States. 

  • February 10th: A Musical Journey: From Jazz to Motown An interactive performance that celebrates music genres such as swinging jazz, gospel, and Motown. Learn how historical events shaped music.

  • February 18th: Cincinnati’s Inaugural Black Wine Festival (sold out) - Celebrate black winemakers and sample 100+ wines, wine cocktails, food cheese, and music from DJ Baker.

  • February 15th: Why Kids Need Truthful History Lessons Roundtable Discussion Roundtable examining the importance of teaching children about inclusion, diversity and social justice in schools.

  • February 17th: gOD-Talk Viewing and discussion on this documentary that explores how millennials are redefining faith.

  • February 17th: Black-Owned Business Expo Featuring local artists, businesses, and vendors. 

For more Black History Month events, check out the full events calendar

Black-owned restaurants in the Cincy Region

In Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, you'll find Black-owned restaurants serving up everything from coffee and pastries to barbecue to Southern foods.

shrimp and grits at Nolia KitchenShrimp and Grits (Photo credit: Noila Kitchen)

Nolia Kitchen

Nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award, chef and owner Jeff Harris brings the south to Cincinnati on a plate in Nolia Kitchen. Inspired by his upbringing in New Orleans, Harris showcases classic southern flavors with unexpected twists in his restaurant in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. 

Honey Uninhibited

Owned by former Cincinnati Bengal Carlos Dunlap, Honey Uninhibited brings classic southern staples to the region with uninhibited hospitality, innovative dishes, and an ambiance that refreshes. Bring your honey to Covington to relish in their unique brunch, lunch, or dinner offerings. 

Check out this handy list of Black-owned restaurants and support them this month and all year long.

Black-owned shops and businesses in the Cincy Region

originalitees shirt someone in Cincinnati loves mePhoto credit: Originalitees

  • Originalitees: Print shop specializing in collegiate, state, city, and neighborhood pride apparel. Originalitees even has a collection of bandanas for your pup. 
  • Hutch Baby: Hutch Baby is an upscale children’s boutique with fun and colorful clothing for newborns through the tween years.
  • District 78: Shop gifts and home decor at District 78 near the University of Cincinnati. They have a curated collection of candles, plants, clothing, and more
  • We Are Mortar: We are Mortar is an entrepreneurial hub for dreamers and doers providing access to the resources needed to start & run successful businesses 
  • The Confetti Room: Plan your next event in this chic event space in the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. 
  • Soul Palette: Soul Palette creates unique paint experiences and works of art at any scale to celebrate any occasion
  • The Sweet Body Bakery: Almost good enough to eat, The Sweet Body Bakery creates natural body treats that exfoliate and hydrate your skin.
  • Inspired Fashion: Women’s fashion boutique in Covington specializing in affordable, high quality pieces with flair. Online or at their Covington boutique. 

Black-owned breweries and bars in the Cincy Region

  • Esoteric Brewing: Skip the garage and visit Cincinnati’s first brew lounge. Great beer and delicious Korean fried chicken by Decibel Chicken? Yes, please!
  • Cincy Brewing: From easy-drinking light beers to experimental IPAs and stouts, Cincy Brewing has a beer for everyone.
  • Revel OTR: A cool urban winery, Revel OTR, offers handcrafted wines, snacks, and live music in the heart of Over-The-Rhine
esoteric brewingPhoto credit: Esoteric Brewing

Black-owned skin care and spas in Cincinnati

  • Grace + Grit: A spa with purpose, Grace + Grit offers in facials, massages and waxing along with loving on those navigating the cancer journey.
  • True Shea: Black-Owned and ethically sourced, True Shea is a natural skin care product line that feels good on your hair/skin and your consciousness. 
  • Pure Beauty Skin Bar: Get glowing with skin care treatments, facials, and acne prevention. Pure Beauty Skin Bar has their own product line of serums, cleansers, UV shields, and more.

Cultural institutions and tours

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.

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:
James Bradley Statue on the Riverside Drive Statue Tour (photo: Visit Cincy)

Developed by the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission (NKCAC) and now residing on NKY Art Tours, this self-guided walking tour includes 18 spots around Covington, Ky., highlighting African Americans' history and accomplishments 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 Hospital, Dr. James Randolph.

Newport Black History Tour: Also developed by NKCAC and residing on NKY Art Tours. Newport was once the center of education for Black students in Campbell County.  The Newport Black History tour explores the stories, neighborhoods and buildings that reflect the contributions of African American residents in Newport, Kentucky. 

For more Black History Month information check out these local organizations: