Halle Berry

Halle Berry of Cleveland won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the romantic drama film Monster's Ball (2001), becoming the only woman of color to have won the award.

History was always my favorite subject in school. I minored in it in college, and have found it fascinating since my grandmother introduced me to a book on the history of U.S. Presidents shortly after I learned to read.

I still have it, tattered and torn, but it reminds me of where this obsession began.

What makes history most intriguing to me are lessons others have already learned for us, and discovering facts that require a little deeper digging. That leads us to today's topic: Black History Month.

Ohio has a long and proud history of firsts in racial integration, particularly in sports. While that may be a starting point, there are a wide range of interesting narratives on this subject beyond athletics.

You may have noticed over the past year Richland Source and her sister properties has joined in a collaboration with the Ohio History Connection, sharing stories of our state's past.

This installment, with a photo gallery to match, offers a timeline of Black history in Ohio that was originally published on that site Feb. 24, 2011.

Larry Phillips mug shot

Richland Source managing editor Larry Phillips. He's led the Source newsrooms since 2016. 

Blacks have made a significant impact on Ohio and U.S. history. Here is a short list of some of the highlights.

1851 Soujourner Truth gave her famous Aint I a Woman? speech at the Womens Convention in Akron.

1856 Wilberforce University, the country's oldest, private, Black university was founded.

1862 Black men in Cincinnati were impressed to build fortifications to defend the city from Confederate attack. They were designated the Black Brigade.

1863 The first regiment of African American recruits from Ohio reported for Civil War service in Delaware, Ohio. They were the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry; renamed the 5th United States Colored Troops.

1880 George Washington Williams was the first African American to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives.

1888 George Myers purchased the barbershop in the Hollenden House, Clevelands finest hotel, and it became a hot spot for Republican Party operatives.

1893 Paul Laurence Dunbar, renknowned poet from Dayton, published his first collection of poetry, Oak and Ivy.

1898 Charles Young from Ripley and Wilberforce commanded the 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers in Cuba during the Spanish American War.

1914 Garrett Morgan from Cleveland patented the safety hood, an early version of the gas mask.

1923 Garrett Morgan from Cleveland patented the three-way traffic symbol.

1930 The Ohio Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was chartered in Columbus.

1946 The Tuskegee Airmen 477th Composite Group was transferred to Lockbourne Army Air Base in Columbus.

1947 Central State became a separate institution from Wilberforce University. In 1965 it attained the status of a university.

1958 Martin Luther King gave the commencement address at Central State University.

1967 Carl B. Stokes became the first African American elected mayor of a major American city when he was elected mayor of Cleveland.

1972 Ellen Walker Craig became the first African American woman elected to the office of mayor when she became mayor of Urbancrest.

1988 National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center opened in Wilberforce.

1988 Toni Morrison from Lorain won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her fifth novel Beloved.

2002 Halle Berry, from Cleveland, was the first African American woman to win Best Actress for Monsters Ball.

2004 National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in Cincinnati.

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