By Jill Dunne
Photos by Dan Yount
A new series of murals that recognize important leaders in Avondale’s history who fought for Civil Rights are now on view, thanks to ArtWorks and the Avondale Development Corporation (ADC). The mural series, Pillars of Cincinnati, were dedicated at a public celebration May 18 at Hirsch Recreation Center, 3630 Reading Road.
Featured on the murals are these treasured community heroes:
– Avondale residents Artie and Annie Matthews, mural at 3118 Reading Road, opened Cincinnati’s first Black music academy downtown Cincinnati in the early 20th century. Artie was known for helping to define the ragtime music genre.
– Theodore Berry, mural at 3494 Reading Road, who was a lawyer by trade and leader for Black rights, Berry was elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1949, and in 1972, he became the city’s first African American mayor.
– Marjorie B. Parham, mural at 3494 Reading Road, who was the publisher of The Cincinnati Herald newspaper starting in 1963. She was an advocate for the Black community who believed in the power of the press to elevate African American stories. She was a member of the Urban League, American Red Cross, and St. Andrews Episcopal Church.
– A national champion for Civil Rights, Fred Shuttlesworth. Mural at 1019 Dana Avenue. His home in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed and he was injured protesting segregation. This drove him to fight harder for Civil Rights throughout his life. He moved to Cincinnati in 1961 to pastor Revelation Baptist Church and by 1966, he had started a new congregation in Avondale called Greater New Light Baptist Church, where he was the pastor for 40 years.
– An Orthodox Jewish real estate agent, Fanny Graff, mural at 439 Forest Avenue, used her connections to find quality housing for minority populations and was a strong proponent of fair housing for all.