Rendville | Breaking the Color Barrier
Rendville, Ohio 43730
Established in 1879 by Chicago industrialist William P. Rend as a coal mining town, Rendville became a place where African Americans broke the color barrier. In 1888, Dr. Isaiah Tuppins, the first African American to receive a medical degree in Ohio, was elected Rendville’s mayor, also making him the first African American to be elected a mayor in Ohio. Richard L. Davis arrived in Rendville in 1882 and became active in the Knights of Labor. He was one of the labor organizers from the Little Cities of Black Diamonds region who helped found the United Mine Workers of America in 1890. An outstanding writer and orator, Davis was elected to UMWA’s national executive board and organized thousands of African Americans and immigrants to join the union.
Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., another African-American miner, arrived in Rendville in 1884. In his own words, “sacrificed to the demon of gambling” in this “most lawless and ungodly place,” Powell had a spiritual awakening at the Rendville Baptist Church. He later went on to become the minister of one of the nation’s largest Protestant congregations, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York City. He led the struggle against racism as a founder of the National Urban League and as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was an influential spiritual leader during the Harlem Renaissance. Roberta Preston was appointed postmaster of Rendville in 1963, becoming the first African American woman in Ohio to hold such a position. Following in her footsteps was Sophia Mitchell who became Ohio’s first African American woman mayor when she became Rendville’s mayor in 1969.
Sunday Creek Associates
Little City of Black Diamonds Council
The Ohio Historical Society