Black History Month: 7 Cincinnati African-Americans who are making history today

CINCINNATI - How do we know when a person will make the history books? We can't predict who will leave a legacy in their community, but there are some people whose work and contributions today are sure to make a lasting difference.

We invited 11 African-American men and women have their photos taken for this story; seven agreed to participate. By no means exhaustive, we invite readers to nominate other people to add to our list.

Patti Collins, musician and philanthropist

"Peppermint Patti" Collins, photographed at The Elm Street Dental Center, dedicated in honor of Kyle Willis, her nephew, who died from a tooth infection. Collins and her husband, musician Bootsy Collins, founded the Bootsy Collins Foundation to support people with health-threatening dental conditions. The foundation also fund programs that "reach youth, teens and adults through fun, constructive musical and educational activities." MORE


Taylor Harris, documentary maker and student

While still an undergraduate student at Northern Kentucky University, Harris served as production coordinator for "Hate Crimes in the Heartland," a documentary about violence in Tulsa, Okla. The film debuted at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Harris works as Media Specialist at Northern Kentucky University's Center for Applied Informatics.


Bleuzette Marshall, Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Cincinnati 

UC President Santa Ono appointed Marshall to the position in February 2013. Marshall holds three degrees from UC: a BA in psychology (1992), an MEd (2001) and a PhD in educational studies (2009).
As a respected member of the UC administration, she is charged with moving the university forward  as it continues to "implement the Diversity Plan and build on the accomplishments of the university's first CDO Mitchel D. Livingston who retired at the end of 2012." 


Chuck Mingo, Campus & Teaching Pastor at Crossroads Church in Oakley

After a nine-year career in sales with Procter & Gamble, Mingo changed his course, joining Crossroads Church as a teaching pastor in 2007. Today, Mingo is the lead pastor at the church's Oakley campus .

In this role, Mingo strives to "Encourage a community of people who are open to God and/or pursing God through teaching and preaching." 


Alicia Reece, Ohio State Representative and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President (D-Cincinnati)

Reece is serving her second term as state representative in the 33rd Ohio House District, which includes the city of Cincinnati, Springfield Township, and Hamilton County suburbs. She was appointed to the seat in March 2010, replacing Tyrone Yates, who became a judge. Later that year, voters elected to keep her in office.

A graduate of Withrow High School, Reece earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Grambling State University in Louisiana.

Before her appointment to the Ohio House, she served as vice mayor of Cincinnati (2002-06) and was a city councilwoman for the eight years before that. During this time, she advocated for women’s health legislation, racial profiling litigation, public safety, small business tax reform, and an improved tourism industry in the Greater Cincinnati area. MORE


Regina Russo, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Cincinnati Art Museum

Russo's name is familiar to television news viewers around the Tri-State through her work at FOX 19 from 1996 to 2010. She was a newscast anchor and reporter, produced and hosted a weekly public affairs program, among other duties.

A press release announcing Russo's hire included this quote from museum director Aaron Betsky:

“We are thrilled to gain Regina as a member of the Art Museum team. Her knowledge and experience with a variety of media formats will be invaluable in furthering our mission to bring people and art together."

In her role at the art museum, Russo oversees all marketing and media communications and serves as its lead spokesperson.


Kathy Wade, jazz musician and arts advocate

A Cincinnati jazz icon , Wade is also the founder and CEO of Learning Through Art (LTA). The nonprofit's stated mission is to "enhance the opportunities for collaborations, arts education, resource and economic development and artistic growth within the community."  

LTA's main event is the popular Crown Jewels of Jazz Heritage Festival. In August 2013, the free event brought big names from around the country to Washington Park for four days of music. Attendees could support LTA's programs buy spending money with festival vendors.

Photography by Samantha Grier, WCPO Contributor. You can connect with her on Twitter: @sgrierfoto.

Editor's Note: The

other people invited to participate were Dr. O'dell Owens (president of Cincinnati State); Pastor Damon Lynch (New Prospect Baptist Church); Nathanial Jones (retired judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit); and former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.

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