Visiting King-Lincoln

Today Red Oak students, teachers, and parent volunteers spent time in the King-Lincoln District just east of downtown. Throughout the 20th century, King-Lincoln was the cultural and commercial heart of the African American community in Columbus. Visiting with arts professionals at King Arts Complex and Lincoln Theater, then spending time at the Long Street Bridge Cultural Wall, we learned about the artists and activists who brought life to the area in the past, and those working there today.

We started our day at the King Arts Complex…

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Jevon Collins, Performing Arts Director, directed back-to-back tours for our groups (Chickadees and Cardinals 1, then Cardinals 2 and Hawks). Not surprisingly, this portrait of Dr. King, made of gum balls by community participants, captivated the kids.

Jevon Collins, Performing Arts Director, directed back-to-back tours for our groups (Chickadees and Cardinals 1, then Cardinals 2 and Hawks). Not surprisingly, this portrait of Dr. King, made of gum balls by community participants, captivated the kids.

Everyone was taken aback at these signs outside the restrooms. The kids showed true compassion when confronted by the manifestation of something they had heard about and seen in books.

Everyone was taken aback at these signs outside the restrooms. The kids showed true compassion when confronted by the manifestation of something they had heard about and seen in books.

While they waited for their tour, Cardinals 2 and the Hawks examined this piece together with parent volunteer and art educator, Jodi Kushins. They came up with some meaningful interpretations of what at first appeared to be just a colorful collection of geometric shapes. We learned later the piece is called, “Giza" which fit some of our ideas more easily than others.

While they waited for their tour, Cardinals 2 and the Hawks examined this piece together with parent volunteer and art educator, Jodi Kushins. They came up with some meaningful interpretations of what at first appeared to be just a colorful collection of geometric shapes. We learned later the piece is called, “Giza" which fit some of our ideas more easily than others.

Maureen read books about and featuring the work of local legend Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson to Chickadees and Cardinals 1 after their tour. Robinson is well-known around the world, a MacArthur Fellowship was just one of the awards she received in her lifetime. We saw her work throughout the day.

Maureen read books about and featuring the work of local legend Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson to Chickadees and Cardinals 1 after their tour. Robinson is well-known around the world, a MacArthur Fellowship was just one of the awards she received in her lifetime. We saw her work throughout the day.

Everyone was quiet as we walked through a reproduction of a slave ship that included artwork and artifacts that brought the stories and history Mr. Collins shared alive. Many of the students reflected on this portion of the tour at lunch when Sarah invited the kids to draw about something that stood out to them from their tour.

Everyone was quiet as we walked through a reproduction of a slave ship that included artwork and artifacts that brought the stories and history Mr. Collins shared alive. Many of the students reflected on this portion of the tour at lunch when Sarah invited the kids to draw about something that stood out to them from their tour.

Sitting for a few minutes in the Pythian Theater, we learned a bit more about the people who built this space for as a showcase for community talent. Enormous, life-like contemporary portraits of key artists in the area grace the walls.

Sitting for a few minutes in the Pythian Theater, we learned a bit more about the people who built this space for as a showcase for community talent. Enormous, life-like contemporary portraits of key artists in the area grace the walls.

After lunch we were all ready for a walk to the Lincoln Theater. First built in 1928, the theater was shuttered for 3 decades before former Mayor Michael Coleman and a group of supporters raised funds to renovate it. Today it is a cultural destination for performances, classes, and special events of all kinds. The building also serves as the home of Harmony Project (which you should look up if you aren’t familiar with it!).

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Suzan Bradford-Kounta, a native of the King-Lincoln District, general manager of the theater and and creative director of the Thiossane West African Dance Institute gave us a tour of the place. We learn about its original and restored design, inspired by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.

Suzan Bradford-Kounta, a native of the King-Lincoln District, general manager of the theater and and creative director of the Thiossane West African Dance Institute gave us a tour of the place. We learn about its original and restored design, inspired by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.

Walking by one of the practice spaces, we got to listen in for a few moments to Max Lomax, artist-in-residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State rehearsing for the world premiere of his 400: Afrikan Epic. We all wished we could have lingered longer, and danced…

Walking by one of the practice spaces, we got to listen in for a few moments to Max Lomax, artist-in-residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State rehearsing for the world premiere of his 400: Afrikan Epic. We all wished we could have lingered longer, and danced…

After touring the theater’s ballroom - where various social and military groups like the Tuskegee Airmen held dances in earlier times - classrooms, and the practice spaces, we were ready for another walk. Just down the block from the theater we strolled along the Long Street bridge. This spot is well worth a visit, featuring historic photographs and block print portraits celebrating people and places who made an impact and left a legacy on King-Lincoln and beyond.

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As always, we’re grateful to our school staff and parent volunteers for organizing this opportunity and to Mother Nature for limiting the rain while we were outdoors.