Civil rights pioneers, Olympians, innovators, and historic black universities make up the fabric of the community.
Here is a look at some of their stories:
A Dayton trailblazer: James H. McGee was Dayton’s first black mayor.
A Wilberforce graduate, he moved to Dayton and began to practice law. Much of his work was for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
An Olympic great: Just months after winning a gold medal in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Edwin Moses was honored by his hometown.
“Moses has climbed mountain of fame,” was the Aug. 6, 1984 Dayton Daily News front page headline marking Moses’ 47.75-second finish in the 400-meter hurdles.
Devoted to dance: The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) is Ohio’s oldest modern dance company. It has mesmerized audiences both local and worldwide, and developed countless dance stars since 1968, and it wouldn’t have happened without the talent and passion of Jeraldyne Blunden.
Blunden devoted her life to dance education and performance and provided inspiration for generations of talent.
‘A refuge from slavery’s first rule: ignorance’: Wilberforce University, the country’s oldest private historically black university with origins dating back before the Civil War, was founded in 1856.
The original university had its start on land known for its natural springs and pastoral beauty located east of Xenia. Elias Drake, a lawyer and former speaker of the Ohio General Assembly, purchased the land and built a health resort on the site in 1850. He called it Tawawa Springs.
A military pioneer: Charles Young was the third African-American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He went on to achieve the rank of colonel and serve as a military attache despite his being born into slavery in 1864.
At the end of the Civil War, Young’s family left Kentucky and sought a new life in Ripley, Ohio, where Young thrived as a student in an integrated high school class and graduated in 1881. He went on to teach at a school for black students for several years.
Dayton’s civil rights pioneer: W. Sumpter McIntosh challenged segregation before the issue of racial equality gained national attention. A firm believer in non-violence, McIntosh, known as “Mac,” attempted negotiation to earn equal rights. When his efforts were hampered, he stirred Dayton’s black community to boycott and picket.
As president and founder of the West Side Citizens Council, McIntosh led one of the first civil rights demonstrations in Dayton to protest discriminatory hiring practices at white-owned stores and banks in West Dayton.
Black women that helped shape Dayton’s history: A Twitter hashtag campaign, #BlackWomenDidThat, encouraged memories of and inspiration from black women who have helped to change history.
Here are seven women with Dayton connections who fit into that group.
A poet for all time: The son of former slaves, Dayton-born Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first nationally-known African-American writers.
Dunbar’s father, Joshua, escaped slavery and enlisted to serve in the Union Army before settling in Dayton. His mother, Matilda, was born a slave in Fayette County, Kentucky, but despite being illiterate instilled a love for language in her son.