King Records was probably the first racially integrated business in Cincinnati. Although northern cities were not legally segregated by the Jim Crow laws of the South, they were usually segregated by custom. Even in the North, African-American residents were often not permitted in certain establishments and schools, such as Cincinnati’s Coney Island Amusement Park and the city’s Music Colleges. It took activists years of organizing and nonviolent protests to integrate these institutions, and the methods they used would prove essential in the later Southern Civil Rights movements.
For King Records to be integrated as early as the 1940s was truly groundbreaking.