Newly free slaves James Bradley and Henry Bibb were both able to publish their accounts of enslaved life prior to the Civil War. Photos provided

By Christina Hartleib

Continuing their mission to preserve and commemorate Cincinnati’s Black history throughout the year, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House has planned numerous February events to help Cincinnati residents celebrate Black History Month.  

This February, Cincinnatians can learn the stories of often unrecognized and unsung people who have worked quietly for justice and inclusion. Lectures, discussion, film and even archeological analysis of the historic Harriet Beecher Stowe House restoration uncover bits of history formerly unknown.

Because of the restoration work on the house, the Friends of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House have partnered with the Walnut Hills Branch Library to host most events for free. The majority of offerings are hybrid, taking place both in person and via Zoom for those who register.  

February programming includes: 

Two Men in the Crossfire (February Power of Voice Discussion) 7p.m., Wed., February 1, free. Walnut Hills Branch Library (2533 Kemper Lane) or online via Zoom (RSVP for link). Although part of a free state, antebellum Cincinnati was not friendly to abolitionists and African Americans. Begin Black History Month by considering the narratives of two men who made their ways to Cincinnati after being enslaved in the South. Newly free, James Bradley enrolled as a student at Lane Seminary, and Henry Bibb came to our city as a freedom seeker. We’ll also discuss the impact their stories had on Harriet Beecher Stowe when she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The People Who Made Madisonville – Lecture with Chris Hanlin, 4p.m., Sun., February 5, free. Walnut Hills Branch Library (2533 Kemper Lane) or online via Zoom (RSVP for link)

The village of Madisonville, Ohio – now a neighborhood within Cincinnati – has a remarkable tradition of civic leadership by persons of color and many of its leaders were also residents of the Walnut Hills neighborhood.  Come learn about amazing women and men who shaped this city, including:

·   Alice Easton Leland, the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Cincinnati,

·   Hattie Brown Walker, the first Black librarian at the main branch of the Cincinnati Public Library,

·   Nicholas Niblett, a Tuskegee Airman who went on to be a foreman at GE,

·   Sam Britten, a Vietnam veteran who became an Ohio state representative.

Speaker Chris Hanlin is a local historian and architect in Cincinnati. Chris has given lectures on African American cemeteries at Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library and at the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. He is a former longtime volunteer in the genealogy library of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and he is on the Black History Sites Advisory Committee of the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

Cincinnati historian and architect Chris Hanlin will discuss the unsung Black people who built the Cincinnati neighborhood of Madisonville.

Hard Hat Tour – Peek Inside the Restoration Process, 11 a.m., Saturday, February 18, Harriet Beecher Stowe House, 2950, $12 general / $5 HBSH members.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House has evolved significantly over nearly 200 years from it’s original purpose as the president’s home on the Lane Seminary campus to a busy boarding house and gathering place for Black community leaders, to an Ohio History Connection site. As the historic restoration moves into a new interior phase, we are uncovering new questions and answers every week.

Join volunteer Eric Driscoll to explore behind the scenes and get the latest updates on the architectural investigation and historic restoration underway. Tour participants must be able to navigate narrow and/or steep staircases. Dust masks are encouraged.

Almos’ a Man (film) 10am, Saturday, February 25, 2023, FREE Walnut Hills Branch Library (2533 Kemper Lane) or online via Zoom (RSVP for link)

“Almos’ a Man”, is a short story by Richard Wright originally published in 1940 in Harper’s Bazaar magazine, and again in 1961 as part of Wright’s compilation Eight Men. The story centers on Dave, a young African-American farm worker who is struggling to declare his identity in the atmosphere of the rural South. The story was adapted into a 1976 film starring LeVar Burton. Discussion will be led by Dr. John Getz, Professor Emeritus, Xavier University.All events will include discussion to educate and inform attendees about Cincinnati history. Reservations are limited for all events. Most programs are free, though registration for program tickets and/or Zoom link is requested at or by calling 513-751-0651.

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