C Smith is a “Visual Historian.” He devoted his career to capturing the images of the people of Cincinnati. He has captured the commonplace, the celebration of those unrecognized. He was there when James Brown shouted, “Say it Loud! I’m Black and I’m proud,” he was there shooting the riots as the City burned, the swearing-in of Black Judges and the crowning of beauty Queens.
C was there. C’s magazine the “Ghetto” told of more personal secrets and concerns of the Black community. He became known as “Your Personal Photographer”. C‘s images document 6 decades of Black Cincinnati.
What happens when you combine the Eye of C Smith, Cincinnati’s prominent Black photographer with the Eye of Cincinnati’s rich Black history? A free state, the roadway to Canada, the promised land – the Black laws, lawsuits, and riots before the end of slavery, help give the city her signature name. Queen. Cincinnati was known, as the land of opportunity, many thought that it was its own country, where Blacks were free. For those Blacks looking for economic opportunities as well as escape from the rigors and racism of the South, Cincinnati was the first taste of freedom. It was the first step to be taken toward freedom both in the United States and the door to Canada.