Avondale is the thread that pulls together many of Cincinnati’s integrated and majority black neighborhoods like Kennedy Heights, Walnut Hills, Evanston, and the West End.
like Evanston, Avondale’s racial composition flipped from white to black around the 40’s, quickly becoming a majority black neighborhood. in the late 60’s, things were slightly looking up for black people around the country. school segregation was outlawed in 1954, and the civil rights act of 1964 abolished all legally-enforced public segregation. however, racial tensions were still at an all-time high. job opportunities for blacks were little to none, and in many ways the country still behaved like segregation was legal.
between 1965 and 1966, Cincinnati had a string of unsolved murders where seven elderly white women were sexually assaulted and murdered. the “Cincinnati Strangler” was coined as the killer’s name. in 1967, a black man named Postal Laskey Jr was arrested and convicted as the Cincinnati Strangler. the conviction was controversial, because many people in the black community believed Laskey to be innocent. this, along with frustrations over constant police harassment and lack of jobs eventually led to a multiple day riot that started in Avondale and spread to other neighborhoods throughout the city that summer. thousands of rioters destroyed cars, buildings, and stores. rioting eventually ended but tensions remained high. coincidentally, Martin Luther King Jr. had visited Avondale a day before the riots began and preached a sermon on the importance of nonviolent protest.
in april 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and tensions in the black community again reached a boiling point - Avondale experienced its second riot in less than a year. throughout the city, more structures were destroyed and many people even lost their lives.
i say that Avondale is the thread that pulls many neighborhoods together because across the city, many white cincinnatians saw what was happening in Avondale and used the riots as an excuse to move to the suburbs. many local historians also argue that Avondale never fully recovered from the riots in the 60’s. the neighborhood was disinvested in by the city. the only money that flowed in from the city went to clearing tracts of land for UC and local hospitals. Avondale’s business district on Burnet Avenue was wiped out because of the property damage it experienced during the riots and never fully rebuilt.
today, Avondale is a mostly lower-class neighborhood. It still has sprawling mansions that serve as a reminder of what the neighborhood used to look like before white flight and years of disinvestment from the city took place.