Explore Black History in Southeast Ohio

Maya Meade
February 28, 2023

Interested in learning more about Black History in Southeastern Ohio? Check out the following local organizations who serve to educate our communities, celebrate and preserve the history and future of Black Americans in our region:

The People of Color Museum at Tablertown

The Tablertown People of Color Museum is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving cultural artifacts and history to ensure that the history of people of color is represented accurately to break down stereotypes and increase pride in family lineage. Curator David Butcher traces his family back to Michael and Hannah Tabler, the white son of a Virginia plantation owner, and his wife, who was formerly enslaved by his father. Michael married and emancipated Hannah and their 6 children, and moved his family to Athens County around 1830. David wants to ensure that his family’s history, a history that is reflective of our shared and collective history, continues to be shared.

Visit Tablertown! Learn more at https://peopleofcolormuseum.com/

To coordinate a tour, email or call David Butcher at davidbutcher664@gmail.com or (740) 590-6368

Mount Zion Baptist Church as seen from Carpenter Street
The Mount Zion Preservation Society seeks to restore the historic Baptist church on Carpenter St. into a vibrant Black community center.

The Mount Zion Preservation Society

Mount Zion Baptist Church served as the key gathering place for the Black community of Athens and Southeast Ohio from 1905 until the 1990s. The historic building stands at the intersection of Carpenter and Congress streets in uptown Athens as one of few remaining examples of Black American architecture in Southeastern Ohio. Over the course of its rich history, the church supported the cultural and social contributions of Black Americans in the Ohio River Valley. When the church disbanded during the early 2000s, a cultural void was left for the Black community of the Ohio River Valley. What had previously served as a social and spiritual hub deteriorated into a building no longer fit to serve the needs of the community.

Mount Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the Mount Zion Baptist Church into a vibrant community center. The center will offer educational, cultural and creative programming to support the Black community and other marginalized peoples of Southeast Ohio. The building is currently closed to the public while the Mount Zion Preservation Society works actively to raise the funding needed to rehabilitate this historic building.

Visit http://mountzionathens.org/ to learn more.


The Chesterhill Multicultural Genealogical Center

The Multicultural Genealogical Center began in 2000 dedicated to documenting the contributions of multicultural and multiracial families to the social, cultural, political, religious, educational, and economic development of the Ohio River Valley. Its purpose includes collecting records that document the genealogies of families in southeastern Ohio whose ancestors cross racial and cultural boundaries (African, European, Asian, and Native American), protecting these records for future generations, telling our stories in whatever ways we can, and promoting and improving public perception of the region's diverse, multicultural heritage.

Check out the Underground Railroad Immersive Journey! Visitors can participate in an “escape room” experience wherein teammates seek clues that Freedom Seekers used on the Underground Railroad.

Come discover the journey to freedom that Chesterhill is part of!  

Visit https://mgcenterchesterhill.org/ to learn more.

Andrew Jackson Davison's portrait
Andrew Jackson Davison, Athens' first African-American attorney (Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Library). Restoration by Fred Tom, Lamborn’s Studio.

The Andrew Jackson Davison Club

The Andrew Jackson Davidson Club was founded at the Athens Middle School in 2019 by a group of students and advisor Angela Hall. The founding cohort established the club when to recognize Andrew Jackson Davison, Athens’ first black lawyer. Davison’s story was largely unrecognized, and his portrait had been excluded from hanging in the courthouse alongside the other members of the Athens County Bar and Public Officials. The middle schoolers advocated to change this, and in 2020, Davison’s portrait was finally added. The group has now grown to include a high school and middle school chapter, and every year, the clubs choose new projects to undertake. These projects are specifically focused on race, culture, social change, and community.

The AJD Club collaborates with local historians, experts, and educators to learn more about their chosen topic. Each project ends with an event that is open to the community, and these events are always a great success.

Keep an eye out for their annual Black History Month event – It’s open to the public and always a powerful celebration!

Follow the AJD Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Athens.AJD.Club/



Invisible Ground

Invisible Ground is a multimedia project utilizing audio, augmented reality, visual elements, and place-based storytelling to engage people in the history of their communities. The project was created, and is produced by, Brian Koscho. Starting as a podcast in late 2020, Invisible Ground focused on telling the stories of southeast Ohio communities and its people, places, and events to connect to bigger themes in our region and far beyond. Check out the interactive historic markers at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Berry Hotel site on Court Street that use an augmented reality app to revive the historic sites and offer audio tours from local historians.

Visit https://findinvisibleground.com/# to learn more about the augmented reality project or check out the podcast!

Explore on your own!

Download the Black History walking tour map created in partnership with the Mount Zion Preservation Society and Invisible Ground!