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Black Music Walk of Fame welcomes its newest member and more interactive features

Hamilton County Commission President Alicia Reece gives a tour of the Black Music Walk of Fame site
Zack Carreon
Hamilton County Commission President Alicia Reece gives a tour of the Black Music Walk of Fame site, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023.

Hamilton County Commission President Alicia Reece gave a tour of the site set to become the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame Monday.

The site is currently under construction and is set to have its grand opening July 22. The project has taken longer than expected, initially setting its opening date for summer 2022. Reece says the attraction will be more than worth the wait.

During the tour, Reece talked about the walk of fame's many features, which will include a station where visitors can make their own downloadable beats and an augmented-reality experience featuring legendary musicians Bootsy Collins and Penny Ford. Reece says she expects the augmented-reality experience to be among the exhibit's biggest draws and will include a surprise that might even bring a tear to Bootsy Collins' eye.

The Black Music Walk of Fame committee also announced its first inductee of the 2023 class: Louise Shropshire, who was a gospel musician, composer and activist best known for being the writer behind the civil rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome."

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The committee says Shropshire is an important addition to the walk of fame because of her dedication to the community in Cincinnati and the civil rights movement as a whole.

"She helped establish the Great New Life Baptist Church and she led the choir using her hymns to inspire the congregation and established herself as one of the noted gospel artists in this area," Cincinnati NCAAP President Joe Mallory said. "She used her funds to bail out activists who were jailed when they had these protests.

Louise Shropshire wears a pill box hat, a necklace, and corsage pinned to a dark button-up suit jacket in a black and white photo
Robert Anthony Goins Shropshire
Wikimedia Commons
Louise Shropshire in Cincinnati circa 1962 pictured during a fundraiser she held for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mallory goes on to say how Shropshire was a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and housed him on several occasions at her home in Mount Auburn. Mallory says it was at her home where Dr. King first heard Shropshire's song, "If My Jesus Wills," which featured the phrase "we shall overcome" in the chorus.

When the walk of fame officially opens in July, organizers say it will become an important landmark for the city and community. Reece says the exhibit will provide inspiration for local upcoming artists and give Cincinnati's Black community a long-overdue presence in The Banks, where the community first laid down roots.

"Across that river, we came over here, our ancestors that looked like me and we lived on The Banks," Reece said. "It became Bucktown and those things, and you don't even know it existed anymore. Lived in the floodplain. Was run out of here to the West End, and so this is also sacred ground."

More Black Music Walk of Fame inductees will be announced in May.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.