Panel 03: Regional Evolution: Changing Cultural Landscapes in the Midwest

Abstract Title

The Lost Black History of Scioto County, Ohio

Presenter Information

Rebecca JenkinsFollow

Start Date

13-2-2015 3:00 PM

End Date

13-2-2015 2:20 PM

Abstract

To see it today, one would never imagine the rich history of Scioto County, Ohio. Once home to an NFL team, a world class amusement park, and a thriving manufacturing industry, Scioto County and the city of Portsmouth, a small Ohio River town, bordered by Kentucky to the south, have turned into a drug and crime riddled ghost of what once was. Even though a 2,000 foot long series of murals on the floodwall tell the story of her glory days, conspicuously missing from these murals and from all sources of public history is the story of the black citizens of the county that have made the area their home from its earliest days. From the first non-Native American explorations of the area, to extensive participation in the Underground Railroad (and the local son that eventually wrote the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery in the US), to anachronistic progressiveness, like the integration of the public school system in 1885 or the large number of black professionals in the city at the turn of the century, the surprising and liberal history of black or African American citizens in this river town has yet to be told. This paper and presentation will begin to tell that story, intertwining it with the history that has been previously been labeled as “The Story of Portsmouth.”

Comments

Keywords: Ohio History; Black History; Portsmouth, Ohio; Ethnicity and Culture

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Feb 13th, 3:00 PM Feb 13th, 2:20 PM

The Lost Black History of Scioto County, Ohio

To see it today, one would never imagine the rich history of Scioto County, Ohio. Once home to an NFL team, a world class amusement park, and a thriving manufacturing industry, Scioto County and the city of Portsmouth, a small Ohio River town, bordered by Kentucky to the south, have turned into a drug and crime riddled ghost of what once was. Even though a 2,000 foot long series of murals on the floodwall tell the story of her glory days, conspicuously missing from these murals and from all sources of public history is the story of the black citizens of the county that have made the area their home from its earliest days. From the first non-Native American explorations of the area, to extensive participation in the Underground Railroad (and the local son that eventually wrote the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery in the US), to anachronistic progressiveness, like the integration of the public school system in 1885 or the large number of black professionals in the city at the turn of the century, the surprising and liberal history of black or African American citizens in this river town has yet to be told. This paper and presentation will begin to tell that story, intertwining it with the history that has been previously been labeled as “The Story of Portsmouth.”