Randolph & McCulloch Freedom Struggle Complex commemorates local history


By Haylee Pence

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PIQUA – February is Black History Month, which celebrates and honors the struggles and triumphs of African Americans throughout the United States History. A local historian, former teacher, and local advocate, Larry Hamilton, owns and operates the Randolph & McCulloch Freedom Struggle Complex, which helps to commemorate local connections to Black history.

The complex is located at 655 N. Main St. in Piqua. The complex is dedicated to promoting “a cultural understanding of our inclusive historical heritage,” according to the Randolph & McCulloch Freedom Struggle Complex’s website. The property was along one of the “well-known pathways” that fugitives on the Underground Railroad on their path to freedom.

The complex is named after the almost 400 Randolph Freedmen who traveled by the Miami-Erie Canal. According to Hamilton, the Randolph Freedmen were freed by the death of their slave owner and were on their way to resettle on land in Mercer County. Hamilton also spoke about how the Randolph Freedmen weren’t allowed to settle there. While the county and city officials met to discuss the verdict of placement of these individuals, the Randolph Freedmen waited at the Johnston Farm for about five days until the city of Piqua’s officials decided that the group could settle outside the city’s limits in what is known as Rossville. The complex is dedicated to depicting and honoring this history.

The other name in the complex is for William Moore McCulloch who was a member of the U.S. House of Representative from Piqua. According to Hamilton, McCulloch was instrumental in legislating against social injustices against African Americans, including banning slavery.

The Randolph & McCulloch Freedom Struggle Complex has many aspects to commemorate history and advocate for African Americans. The complex is associated with the North Star Coffee Station, which has daily lunch specials and a variety of coffees typically found at most coffee shops. The complex will have a reading nook with a hidden entrance to the basement to represent the Underground Railroad struggles. There will also be a barber shop and beauty salon on the other side to “give ownership identity,” according to the Randolph & McCulloch Freedom Struggle Complex’s website. Another part of the complex is the Sankofa Café, which will bring about traditional foods to honor “black women who became domestics or cooks in the homes of wealthy white merchants and industrialists,” according to the website.

Hamilton has also created the HIGH Five Club, which combines health, healing, heart, heritage, and hope to create an inclusive community. The symbol will be sold as a car decal at the complex.

The North Star Coffee Station hosts a Saturday Music Day where performers can play at 3:30 p.m. Audience members can come and listen to the music and enjoy some food and drinks. They also host a drum circle on Sundays and Tuesdays.

For more information or questions, visit the Randolph & McCulloch Freedom Struggle Complex and talk with Larry Hamilton.

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