Art in YOUR Parks: Black Brigade Monument

Art in YOUR Parks

Every month we will be highlighting a piece of public art within YOUR Cincinnati Parks system to celebrate the newest edition, the Ezzard Charles statue, which will be erected in Laurel Park this October. Did you know that Cincinnati Parks has over 90 pieces of public art throughout the city? 

During Black History Month, we couldn’t think of a better collection of public art pieces to highlight, than those at the Black Brigade Monument in the John G. and Phyllis W. Smale Park.

The Black Brigade Monument

The Black Brigade was formed in 1862 to construct barricades to defend Cincinnati from Confederate attack. Initially, members of the Black Brigade were forced into service. Then, after a public outcry, 718 African-American men volunteered for the service and formed The Black Brigade—which, alongside many other local soldiers, successfully built the critical fortifications in Northern Kentucky.

William Mallory Sr. established the concept and design approach for the monument and worked with diverse team of local artists including sculptors John Hebenstreit and Carolyn Manto, creative writer Tyrone Williams, and graphic designer Erik Brown. John Hebenstreit is also the sculptor for the Ezzard Charles statue in Laurel Park.

On September 9, 2012, during the 150th anniversary of the 1862 defense of Cincinnati, the monument was dedicated in the park’s East Tree Grove. It includes three life-size bronze figures, relief panels, and the names of all soldiers in the Black Brigade.

Take a visit down to Smale Riverfront Park and enjoy this artwork for yourself. In honor of Black History month, we also recommend the short walk up to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center located at: 50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202

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