Columbus's black history is rich and unique, with a segregated community that remains preserved today. Although there were other thriving communities where black resided, 85% of the black population lived in the near east side community, known as King Lincoln Bronzeville, during segregation. A few historical places remain today, and Black History Month is an opportunity to learn about the black community and its culture.
Here are a few places in Bronzeville to discover and celebrate.
The Lincoln Theatre
The Lincoln Theatre opened in 1928 on Thanksgiving Day. A landmark in black and jazz history. Its establishment helped meet the black community's need during segregation—originally opening under the name of The Ogden and a theater for vaudeville entertainment. Owned and operated by James Al Jackson and James Williams, both successful entrepreneurs in the black community. From the 1930s to the early 1960s, the east side community was known nationally as a major jazz center. Notable appearances were made by James Brown, Miles Davis, and Columbus native Nancy Wilson.
Today The Lincoln Theater is a cultural icon committed to transforming the lives of diverse communities through the joy of multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and multi-purpose arts and education.
You can visit The Lincoln Theatre at 769 E. Long Street. Learn more here.
What the Waffle
"What the Waffle" restaurant is known for its original Buttermilk Belgian waffle sandwiches. Their establishment is located in the historic King-Lincoln Bronzeville area on the near east side of Columbus. Owner Gayle Troy said her love for brunch started when she, her husband, and her daughter would travel around the country and find brunch restaurants to dine. Troy opened her new store in 2020 to address a need to provide food to the near east side residence. The best time for visitors to enjoy the experience of "What the Waffle" is Saturday and Sunday for brunch from 9 am to close at 3 pm.
Visit What the Waffle at 695 E. Long St. and learn more here.
The Mayme Moore Park & The King Arts Complex
Named after "the Mother of the Columbus Branch of the NAACP," Mayme Moore spent her lifetime in service. Moore stood alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C., as he delivered his memorable "I Have a Dream" speech. The park is used as a neighborhood park for community gatherings, activities, and celebrations. One of its popular events occurs every Thursday during the summer months, called the Annual Heritage Music Festival.
The King Arts Complex opened in March of 1987 and is located on the Near East side of Columbus, one of the oldest areas of African-American life in the city. Serving as a major anchor for development in the King-Lincoln District, The King Arts Complex is an oasis for cultural and educational activities as well as a community facility for special events.
Visit Mayme Moore Park at 270 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and learn more about The King Arts Complex here.
Columbus Black History Tours with Rita Fuller-Yates
Columbus Black History Tours is the perfect learning tool for historians, history buffs, or first-time visitors to Columbus. It helps to explain Columbus's rich black history and culture. Each rider can experience two different tours with a minimum of forty places to see, touch and discuss. CBH Tours are unlike any history tour you have ever experienced; the tours are engaging, energetic, and knowledgeable. Each tour timeframe is ninety minutes long, and video and music are a part of the journey.
Learn more about Columbus Black History Tours and book your experience here.