1950s - Cincinnati

Reggie Williams was born on Sunday, April 29, 1951 in
Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Cincinnati General Hospital (= today University of Cincinnati Hospital), as second son of Jean Carpenter Williams (1926 -1990). 


"I am the second oldest of her nine children. Most of all of us have different fathers. I did not know the identity of my father until I was 16 years old. But my Mother always stressed to us that, because we were all born from the same womb, we were all brothers and sisters. And that we should always protect, respect, and be there, always, for each other. And we have always tried to follow that rule." (Reggie Williams, 1996)

Cincinnati, Washington Terrace, (early 20th century), photo courtesy of  Cincinnati Museum Center, located in Cincinnati's monumental Union Station. Click to enlarge!

"My Mother had moved back home, to Washington Terrace, after the death of her husband, where she and her four sisters had lived with my grandparents. This is the same place that me and my six other brothers and sisters had lived until I was nine years old. This was a large housing project in the district of Cincinnati called Walnut Hills.

The section in which we lived was called Washington Terrace, number 85. It was built during the WPA, after the Great Depression. Walnut Hills was a predominantly Black district, and Washington Terrace, and as well as I can remember, was all Black. Washington Terrace was not like the housing projects we know today. There was no high crime rates, no drug-wars or abuse, or drug-related crime, no drive-by shootings and alike. It was a "real neighborhood and community". Everybody knew everybody. Everyone looked out for each other, and there was a real sense of care and concern for your neighbor. People who lived on "the Hill" as it was called, knew everybody, and everybody's children, parents, and grandparents." (Reggie Williams, 1996)
Washington Terrace 85 got torn down when Interstate 71 was built.

"I have often been asked when did I 'come out', or when did I know that I was gay? And I always have to laugh, and say that I always felt gay. Even if that was not the term used when I was growing up. But, it is really true for me. I have also felt attracted to boys from about age six or seven. And I always liked to do things that were very un-boy like. Trying to cook, bake, and I loved playing with my sister’s dolls. I used to love to comb my mother’s hair."
(Reggie Williams, 1996)

Reggie with his Mom, 1980s
The Civil Rights Movement begins
In the year 1951 Harry S. Truman was President, the U.S. was involved in the Korean War (1950-1953), the Rosenbergs were sentenced to death, color television got introduced...
The Ohio Historical Society - Joe Munroe Archives offers some photographs online, taken in (rural) Ohio in the 1950s: Farm women, Paperboy on unicycle, House construction, Small town scene

Cincinnati's last two streetcar lines were abandoned on April 29, 1951! Read more >
In 1955, when Reggie was four years old, Rosa Parks (1913-2005) started the Montgomery bus boycott when she refused to give up her seat to a white man. The Civil Rights Movement began.  



National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Logo

A Project of the American Anthropological Association