Students create virtual walking tour of UC's Black history

Interactive experience takes visitors through more than 100 years of history

By Rebecca Schweitzer

Step back into Black history at the University of Cincinnati with the help of a new tour created by students in the College of Arts and Sciences. The interactive tour guides participants through numerous stops where they learn more about prominent figures, from Jennie Davis Porter, who in 1928 became the first Black woman to earn a doctorate at UC, to Sinna Habteselassie, the first Black woman elected to student body president in 2018.

The tour also includes events that mark university's century-long evolution toward equity. Some are celebratory, such as the creation of the African American Cultural and Resource Center, and some are cautionary.

Created as a group project in visiting assistant professor Anne Delano Steinert’s African American History in Public course, the 'University of Cincinnati’s Black History Walking Tour' is available now through the free app PocketSights. Although the project has a website, it is designed to be followed as a self-guided tour through a mobile device and can be downloaded from PocketSights

The inspiration for the creation of the trail stems from Steinert’s belief that UC has a rich African American history that many are unaware of as they walk through campus. 

“My hope was that using this app would give the UC community a sense of the past and connect a new appreciation of the past to specific places where that history has occurred,” Steinert said.

“This project was a fantastic way for me to explore some forgotten history at UC,” said physics major Aaron Rapach, who worked on the tour with the team. “I was able to learn about some important Black figures throughout UC’s existence and make this information more widely available.”

The group that created the tour included recent graduate Killy Kilgallon, and upcoming sophomores Sandy Chan, Raya Fitch, Liz Killius, Rocky Jones, Darby Smith and Rapach.

A significant part of un-learning cultural prejudice is going out of your way to enable underrepresented voices.

Killy Kilgallon, UC student

The students found that in compiling the information for others for this tour, they often learned a lot as well.  

 “Something that surprised me was the lack of available information about the Quadres Society,” said Rapach. “Being one of, if not the only club for Black students at UC at the time, there were only a handful of articles or passages we could find about it. This was one of the stops where most of our information came from UC alumni, so we thought it important to have a widely available walking trail for others to learn about this amazing group easily.” 

 “I viewed working on this project as more of a learning experience than a teaching experience, said Anthropology major Kilgallon. “A significant part of un-learning cultural prejudice is going out of your way to enable underrepresented voices. And so, the way I see it, working on projects like this should feel less like writing down history, and more being a vessel for history to write itself.” 

 According to Steinert, two professors are planning to use the tour in their courses this coming fall semester, and she hopes others will become engaged with this new resource and learn more about the Black history involving UC.

Featured image at top: A look at the interactive, virtual University of Cincinnati's Black History Walking Tour.