When the beloved Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival returned in August after a hiatus from the 2020 pandemic, the music lineup was a little different from the past. Along with the traditional rock and country concerts, the organizers also booked Arrested Development, the hip-hop pioneers of the 1990s.
You can trace this musical shift to the changing demographics of Reynoldsburg. Since 2010, the black population of the suburbs has grown by more than 40%, a change that has shaken local politics in the city. Today, four blacks sit on Reynoldsburg’s city council, based in the neighborhood, and these new representatives have insisted that the city’s iconic cultural event include more diverse musical programming. âOur city council brings different ideas to our events that we organize all over town,â said council chairwoman Angie Jenkins, who was first elected in 2019 alongside two other black women, as well as the premiere of the city, and perhaps of the country. Elected Bhutanese-Nepalese. (Reynoldsburg also has a strong and growing Asian community.)
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Reynoldsburg’s history is mirrored in other eastern Franklin County suburbs including Canal Winchester, Gahanna, New Albany, and Pickerington, all of which have experienced dramatic growth in their black populations over the past decade. Blacks, both transplanted from the city of Columbus and newcomers to central Ohio, are drawn to this area (located near the traditional black enclave on the East Side of Columbus) for the most part. for the same reasons as whites: good schools, safe atmospheres, tight-knit communities. Jenkins moved to Reynoldsburg from Cincinnati in 2000 and raised her now adult children there. âEven when I lived in Cincinnati, I lived in a smaller neighborhood,â says Jenkins, who grew up in the North Avondale neighborhood, northeast of Cincinnati. “This is what I’m used to.”
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