Lincoln Heights is celebrating the community's 74th anniversary on Labor Day by dedicating a new mural. "Black Excellence in Zone 15" is an 80-foot-long timeline history of the neighborhood and its notable residents, including The Isley Brothers, Olympians William Hubbard and Mae Faggs Starr, poet Nikki Giovanni, and more.
The mural is in Serenity Park, across from the Lincoln Heights municipal facilities, and was championed by The Heights Movement, a collective of people from Lincoln Heights dedicated to reinvesting in their community. The Lincoln Heights chapter of the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance, created to address opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color, will also launch Monday.
"Cincinnati has this deep history in terms of murals and arts projects and we were wondering why can't there be mural projects in the community of Lincoln Heights?" says Carlton Collins, a member of The Heights Movement. "We have so much history; we have so many great people who've come through our community, why not put them on display in some way, shape or form?"
Zone 15, Collins explains, is a nickname for Lincoln Heights taken from the village's 45215 zip code. He says the plan is to add nine more murals throughout the community because art has the power to make people excited to learn.
"There are so many people that we left off the mural with the understanding that we're going to have to do more than just this."
For example: "The first (official) Black Navy SEAL came from Lincoln Heights," Collins points out.
Lincoln Heights was also the first African American self-governing community above the Mason-Dixon Line; and the first Black community in the nation to have all public works (EMS, fire and police), says Collins.
Collins says a mural like "Black Excellence in Zone 15" is important because there simply are no places that capture the history of Lincoln Heights. Having a mural offers an opportunity to understand, share and celebrate the community's roots and people.
"It truly is a moment for us to say 'Hey, Lincoln Heights has a bright and beautiful future, we just need to band together.' We have all the requisite talent, we have all the requisite resources - not saying we can't go ask for more - but this is an opportunity for us to blaze a new and exciting path forward."
The mural unveiling is from noon to 2 p.m. on Sept. 7. in Serenity Park (1201 Steffen Ave).