A Look at Columbus Monthly's May 2021 Issue on Black Life in Columbus

For the first time in the magazine’s history, we devoted an entire issue to a single topic: the experiences of Black people in Columbus.

Dave Ghose
Columbus Monthly
May 2021 cover of Columbus Monthly

The relief didn’t last.

As so many welcomed the news of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction in April, elation turned to outrage abruptly. Word spread that a Columbus police officer had killed another Black person—a 16-year-old girl named Ma’Khia Bryant. Within minutes, the familiar spectacle began again: politicians urging calm, activists demanding justice, social media exploding with shock and fury.

How did we get here? Like many people, I’ve been thinking about this question a lot since the video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck inspired street protests across the country nearly a year ago and led to a nationwide conversation about racial injustice in all aspects of American life. While this magazine has long covered inequality, I recognized we needed to do something more substantial, something that delved deeper into the persistent and insidious divisions within our community. To accomplish this goal, I needed help—and I’m grateful that acclaimed journalist, historian and Columbus native son Wil Haygood agreed to guide our team through this challenging topic.

This collaboration has resulted in something unique in the history of Columbus Monthly. For the first time since the magazine launched in 1975, we devoted an entire issue to a single topic: the experiences of Black people in our city. Together, our team and Wil, who served as guest editor, assembled an ambitious lineup of stories for the May issue that explores Black life in Columbus, from the arts to law enforcement to education and more.

As proud as I am of this issue, I recognize we need to keep up the work and do a better job covering racial inequality and the experiences of people of color than we have in the past. This is a start, not the end.

Here are the May feature stories.

Remembering the Kahiki Incident

The 1975 confrontation at the famed restaurant is largely forgotten by white Columbus. But for longtime Black residents, it’s a civil rights turning point, a political awakening and a tale of unchecked police violence that continues to resonate.

The Teacher and the Student: Mike Coleman and Shannon Hardin

Mike Coleman is the most successful Black political leader in Columbus history. His career provided a road map for his protégé, Shannon Hardin. Then the world changed.

Warning: Racism is Hazardous to Your Health in Columbus

Franklin County and the city of Columbus have declared racism a public health threat for good reason. What’s being done to attack the inequities?

Franklin Park’s Glory Days as a Columbus Bastion of Black Joy

This bygone era of cars, congas, bell bottoms and more lives on in the memories of its participants—and in the photography of Steve Harrison.

The Future of King-Lincoln Bronzeville

Can King-Lincoln Bronzeville retain its central role in the life of Black Columbus as white residents and investment dollars pour into the neighborhood?

How Linden Turned Into God’s Country

While the Northeast Side community has struggled, its roughly 100 churches have a remained a source of strength. Can these religious anchors keep the faith amid gun violence, unemployment and yet another turnaround plan?

Year of Discovery: Black Columbus Artists in a Time of Crisis

How a dancer/poet, a ceramicist, a photographer, a painter and a sculptor are adapting amid tumult and change

Can Columbus' Suburban Schools Become More Inclusive?

Central Ohio suburban districts—some diverse, some not so much—are having some uncomfortable discussions about racial inequities.

And there’s more:

Letter from Special Guest Editor Wil Haygood: Understanding Columbus’ Racial Divide

The Second Life of Poindexter Village

The Extraordinary Legacy of “The New Jim Crow” 

Deconstructing Gymnast Nia Dennis’ Ode to Black Excellence

Meet Larry Johnson, OSU's First Black Head Football Coach

How Two Columbus Nonprofits Help New Americans

Wil Haygood Finds Hope in a New Generation

Lessons Learned From Growing up in Southfield

The Out-Loud BIPOC Theatre Collective

Yohannan Terrell is Breathing New Life into Columbus' Fashion Industry

Peek Into the Past of two Columbus Abolitionists at the Kelton House

Ena’s Caribbean Kitchen Nourishes Linden

Sitting Down to Sunday Dinner at LaGlory’s Soul Food Café

Wine Professional Joshua Dunson Shares his Favorite Columbus Spots

Alexis Nikole Nelson Wants you to go Outside

Get to Know the Man Behind Crafted Culture Brewing

Listen to a Poem by Marcus Jackson