Ida Mae Rhodes

Ida Mae Rhodes was born in 1899 and lived until 2000 – 101 years. She went to the University of Cincinnati; most records show her graduating in 1919. Yet the university bulletin for 1919-1920 shows her as a junior, and in 1920 she became the president of the first African American sorority on the campus.[…]

Donald Spencer, Douglass School teacher

Donald Spencer was born in Cincinnati in 1915. He went to public schools and graduated from Walnut Hills High School in 1932. At Walnut Hills, Donald worked to ensure that African-American students could attend the Junior-Senior Prom. He then went to the University of Cincinnati where he first graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 1936,[…]

The Great Migration

In the nineteenth century, both before and after the Civil War, most African Americans lived in the rural South. Cincinnati had a relatively high African American population for a Northern city at about 5% in the early twentieth century, and the population grew by nearly a third in the first decade of that century to[…]

Frederick Douglass Elementary School 2008

In 2008 Cincinnati Public Schools built the fifth Frederick Douglass School. The facility is a better fit for younger students than the 1980 structure. With classrooms clustered around open spaces, it allows more modern teaching methods. The “Panther Pride” at the school continues the tradition of educational excellence for students in the largely African American[…]

Frederick Douglass School 1980

In the late 1950’s through the 80’s, Cincinnati Public Schools tried to racially integrate its facilities. With many other public schools in Walnut Hills, the 1911 building seemed too big. The district constructed a new Frederick Douglass School on the old playground. The city hoped there would no longer be a need for segregated services.[…]

Grace Smith Slade

James and Mary Smith lived in the African American settlement near the Elm Street Colored School, on Maple Street (later 2912 Park Avenue). They were within a few blocks of Dangerfield Earley’s home. In 1875 their daughter Grace was born, the second of five children in a home that “maintained the ideals of culture and[…]

Frederick Douglass School Library 1911

Since the nineteenth century, the Cincinnati Public Library provided service in the district’s school buildings. Douglass was no different; it housed a small library for the use of its students. Through the end of the nineteenth century, most adult library services required a trip to the main library building downtown. Andrew Carnegie, the iron baron[…]

Frederick Douglass Colony School 1927

The Board of Education created a model school for the Walnut Hills African American community in 1911. (See our article on that building.) A few years later, the “Great Migration” of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North began in earnest. A 1925 planning report noted that Frederick Douglass School, located at[…]

Lawrence C. Hawkins, Ph. D.

Lawrence Hawkins was born in South Carolina in 1919, the son of a sharecropper. His family moved to Cincinnati in 1926, and he enrolled in Frederick Douglass School, the African American school in Walnut Hills. One biographical sketch notes “It was there he received a strong foundation which carried him through Walnut Hills High School[…]

James H. Robinson, Sr.

James Robinson was born in Sharpsburg, Kentucky in 1887. He attended Fisk University, one of the premier Historically Black Colleges, founded in Nashville Tennessee in 1866. Robinson graduated from Fisk in 1911. He then enrolled at Yale University. He spent a year completing a second bachelor’s degree in 1912 and began to study sociology in[…]