Black Is Excellence Honors Unsung Local Hometown Heroes

Cincinnati Office of Human Relations, Fifth Third Bank Collaborate with Community Advocate to Celebrate Achievements of Local African Americans
Jun 23, 2022 10:00 AM ET
Press Release

CINCINNATI, June 23, 2022 /3BL Media/ – In recognition of Juneteenth, the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Human Relations is collaborating with resident and community advocate Kai Stoudemire-Williams on the third annual citywide marketing campaign, Black is Excellence. The campaign celebrates the numerous contributions to the city of 15 of Cincinnati’s finest. The honorees will be featured on banners that will be on display downtown and in surrounding areas beginning mid-June through mid-July.

Sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, 2022’s Black is Excellence theme, “Unsung Hometown Hero,” is inspired by local photographer Ninamdot, the BIE campaign’s artistic creator who designed the artwork on the banners.

Not just a celebration of Juneteenth, the Black is Excellence campaign aims to acknowledge and promote diversity, inclusion and representation, and to celebrate the achievements of local African Americans. It’s also a way to ensure that African Americans see themselves represented truthfully and accurately in print and digital media.

“During Juneteenth, and every other month, we must take the time to honor the significant role and achievements of African American heroes in our city’s history. It is a time to pause to salute and reflect on the many contributions African Americans have made to the rich fabric that makes up our hometown,” said Stoudemire-Williams. “These heroes, often unsung, are individuals who strengthen our communities through extraordinary everyday acts of service done with trustworthiness and devotion, but who do not always receive recognition. They are everyday people who contribute to our thriving communities, are breaking color barriers, fight for racial equality and make our communities better.”

“It is important that our community acknowledges the contributions of African Americans to this region,” said Stephanie A. Smith, chief inclusion and diversity officer at Fifth Third Bank and a 2022 BIE honoree. “This campaign recognizes unsung heroes who are making a difference in various industries and who are creating modern day Black History through their influential work.”

For many, Juneteenth serves as an opportunity to honor the immeasurable contributions of Black Americans during and post-slavery, whose experiences, art, and stories have always enriched the fabric of what it means to be an American. Black history is American history, Black culture is American culture, and Black stories are American stories.

The 2022 BIE honorees are:

  • Markiea Carter, director, City of Cincinnati Department of Community and Economic Development.
  • Courtis Fuller, anchor-reporter, WLWT-TV, Channel 5.
  • Kala Gibson, chief corporate responsibility officer, Fifth Third.
  • Shawn Manns-Collins, director of business planning and analysis, Fifth Third.
  • Adoria Maxberry, artist.
  • Lydia Morgan, founder, Cincinnati Juneteenth Celebration.
  • Dominique Peebles, founder, Brick Gardens.
  • J. Phenise Poole, deputy general counsel, Fifth Third.
  • Alandes Powell, director of business controls, Fifth Third.
  • Stephanie A. Smith, chief inclusion and diversity officer, Fifth Third.
  • Royce Sutton, community and economic development market manager, Fifth Third.
  • Joel Stone, managing director of Fifth Third Private Bank.
  • Stephanie Byrd Wright, regional CEO, American Red Cross.
  • Walter White, vice president, Sesh Communications.
  • Robert Hampton, comedian.

“We cannot continue to thrive without placing equal value on the skills, knowledge and experiences of all our residents,” said Paul M. Booth, division manager of Cincinnati’s Office of Human Relations. “If we devalue the role of any group, we are merely and unfortunately limiting our city’s potential achievements. The Black community especially has experienced a long, dark history of exploitation and marginalization. Though our city and nation have made great progress, we have more work to do, and the Office of Human Relations is committed to collaborating with all groups and listening to all voices.”

The fight for justice continues through the work of Black leaders and allies, organizers and advocates who champion equality and opportunity for all our communities.

Additional visual locations for the BIE project can be found at:

  • Fountain Square’s LED screen.
  • The Fountain Square ice rink.
  • Orange Barrell Media LED screen outside Kroger on Vine Street.
  • Findlay Market.
  • The “Cincinnati” sign at the Cincinnati Convention Center and interior LED screen colors will be changed to red, yellow and green.
  • Washington Park LED screens in the parking garage entrances.

To learn more about BIE, please visit or @blkisexcellence on Instagram.

About the Office of Human Relations

The Office of Human Relations serves as a catalyst to promote the building of positive relationships between and among the various groups and cultures that make up Cincinnati. The Office works to mobilize institutions and individuals to resolve diversity issues while developing mechanisms to ensure equitable treatment of all persons.

The Office of Human Relations also functions as an integral part of furthering relationships between various community groups and the City of Cincinnati Government.

About Black is Excellence

A celebration of Black History Month, the Black Is Excellence campaign seeks to acknowledge, celebrate, and promote the contributions African Americans are making in our communities. This is done through powerful images displayed in various locations across Cincinnati. Images depicted include clergy members, teachers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, professionals, and more along with positive images of Black families.

Not just a celebration of Black History Month, the BIE campaign aims to acknowledge and promote diversity, inclusion and representation, and to celebrate the achievements of Cincinnati’s African Americans. Our purpose is to ensure that Black Cincinnatians see themselves represented truthfully and accurately in print and digital media. We’re extremely excited about celebrating Black History Month 2022 with you!

About Fifth Third Bank

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the indirect parent company of Fifth Third Bank, National Association, a federally chartered institution. As of March 31, 2022, the Company had $211 billion in assets and operates 1,079 full-service Banking Centers, and 2,201 Fifth Third branded ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In total, Fifth Third provides its customers with access to approximately 54,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending, and Wealth & Asset Management. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of March 31, 2022, had $549 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $61 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations through its Trust and Registered Investment Advisory businesses. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at Fifth Third’s common stock is traded on the NASDAQ® Global Select Market under the symbol “FITB.”