"All life is Inter-Related…Whatever affects one directly… Affects us all indirectly" — MLK (1963)
A Proud Past, a Bright Future
The Bronzeville area is a small community within the King-Lincoln District, just east of Downtown Columbus and north of Olde Towne East. A Community where the annual household income is only $14,600.00, and where only 9% of its residents has a college education. A community that has a population of fewer than 10,000 people, where single-mother households make up over 38 percent of the population compared to that of 15% in the city of Columbus and where the average household size is 9.5 people and whose residents live in the middle of a food desert.
The neighborhood borders are formed by Interstate 71 to the west, Atcheson Street to the north, North 21st Street to the east, and East Broad Street to the south. As a neighborhood born of segregation, Bronzeville was never fully incorporated as a city, but it has always had a distinct culture and self-sustaining community. Its history is similar to that of the Harlem Renaissance or the jazz centers of St. Louis and Chicago. Contact us to learn more about Bronzeville.
In the early 1800s, there were only 43 "free colored" citizens in Columbus. By the 1840 and early 1850s, the number of African-American grew to 1,607 people. Residents worked as farmers, domestic servants, tradesmen, and construction workers for the National Road, the canal, and the railroads.
Between 1900 and 1940, the population grew from 9,000 to 39,000 due to end of World War I and the Great Migration. African Americans from Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia settled on the East Side due to its proximity to the railroads and companies that were dependent upon the railroads.
In the 1920s, the Bronzeville area grew at unprecedented rates as black residents of the segregated city of Columbus began to develop their own unique identity. The neighborhood became a strong center of commerce for the African American community. The community had a diverse educational and cultural background, and residents included shopkeepers, barbers, musicians, clerks, dry-cleaners, journalists, real estate people, beauticians, restaurant owners, and more. There were thriving black physicians, dentists, lawyer, and undertakers. Businesses and institutions included corner grocery and drug stores, theatres, offices, restaurants, and numerous nightclubs and lounges. There was also a thriving artist community and frequent live jazz performances featuring greats such as Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Cab Calloway.
The Future of Bronzeville
Today, Bronzeville is undergoing a process of redevelopment, and the future of the neighborhood is bright. Our executive director, Victor D. Williams, joined the D.F.I. team in 2013 after spending a decade working at the US embassy in South Africa. In 2008, he was honored by Avis Bohlen of the US State Department for advancing US interests by effecting change in the lives of South African youth. He is now dedicated to using those experiences to help young people in Bronzeville thrive.
Join the fight by helping The Douglas Foundation in protecting our environment for the next generation, improving the health and wellness of our communities, and finally ending hunger and food deserts throughout central Ohio by donating today!