The Duke Energy Convention Center: Activism in Cincinnati


Piper Carmack

The Cincinnati sign lights up blue and yellow to represent Ukrainian flag colors.

Bright lights from the Duke Energy convention center fill the night sky spelling out “Cincinnati.”  

It is a hallmark of the Cincinnati skyline coming south on I-75.

Last week, the Duke Energy Convention Center colored its lights blue and yellow in order to represent Ukraine. The company picks out colors for the lights depending on what is going on in the world. For the recent Super Bowl, the lights were set to orange and black for the Bengals, and during Pride Month the lights were decorated in the rainbow to show support.

However, the Cincinnati sign isn’t just a way to show support for football teams and celebrated events; it reaches a wide audience with the hundreds, even thousands of drivers entering downtown Cincinnati each day. This sign can be a way to spread awareness and activism on issues that people struggle with. Case in point: the war with Ukraine and Russia. 

Highlands High School Government Teacher Michael Hils said, “I believe It’s a nice way to show support for a particular cause that most of the public can agree on, whether it’s Ukraine, the Bengals, our own flag (red white & blue), whatever.”

HHS History and Government teacher Kym Grillot agreed with Hils’ statement.

“I think it [Duke Energy Convention Center] can be used for activism but it is also a way to advertise the city as well as bring attention to any issue or event that is taking place,” said Grillot.

The building itself has been around since it was built in 1967, back when it was known as the “Convention-Exposition Center.”  According to the Duke Energy Convention Center, the Cincinnati sign is not a new thing. The Cincinnati lights the center is known for now were first put up in 2006 and while other changes to the building and its landscape have been made over the years, there have been no changes to the sign. 

Most people agree that it is a good way to spread information.

HHS Bluebird Academy Worker Kevin Listerman said, “I think it is appropriate and a great way to remind people about what’s going on in the world.”

Others agree but don’t think it’s a good way to increase activism.

HHS Principal John Darnell said, “I think it’s a good way to spread awareness, but I don’t know if I would call it activism.”

Overall, the Cincinnati Lights are an effective way to show support for both local and worldwide events.