Voices

Freedom Center Voices

Saturday, October 3, 2015 - 10:25am

Connecting Art with History: The Freedom Center Team Visits the Contemporary Art Center

This past Monday was our first ever all staff visit to the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC).  At the insistence of our President, Dr. CG Newsome, we were there to experience Titus Kaphar’s The Vesper Project and we were not disappointed.

 

The Vesper Project is made up of several large installations, a few photographs and then an additional drawing series called the Jerome Project. The large installations caught the initial attraction of my group because they are slightly interactive. You are invited to walk through a refabricated 19th century home, look through a window to an unusual portrait on the opposite wall and walk around a wall of objects that provokes many thoughts. The Vesper Project is based upon a fictional 19th century African American family who had been passing as white until their youngest daughter outs them as black. To be afforded certain luxuries and rights in life and then for those to be taken away because of your skin color, something unchangeable, is a devastating blow to this fictional family, but not so far removed from the lived realities of people that have “passed” throughout history. The home in the exhibit, as well as the supplementary surrounding structures, invite the viewer into the mind of the patriarch of a family whose whole world is falling apart as he deals with ideas of loss, identity, memory, history and family.  It is not a coincidence that these are some of the same concepts that we discuss daily, here at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

 

 

Revelations spread through our tour group at the realization that contemporary art and history do not have to operate individually but that they can both speak to one another and provide a chance for meaningful dialogue through diverse modes of presentation. Looking at the art of Titus Kaphar helped us to have conversations about what it means to not know your family’s history or to have a history or story ripped away from you. Being in the galleries of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center helps us have conversations about what it meant to be taken away from your family and sold into slavery and what exactly a “black identity” was and is today. Essentially, we are asking and answering the same questions through different but equally important lenses. Through our visit to the CAC, we were inspired to have more collaborative interactions with the other cultural arts organizations in our city because we can support the same kinds of conversations and important dialogue even though our presentation styles may be different. This united front on our part, creates a more powerful impact on visitors that can encourage conversations not only within the Freedom Center and the CAC, but beyond the walls of either institution and into the community where conversations turn into instruments of change.

 

Brittany Vernon

IMLS Coca Cola Museum Studies Apprentice

Related Content: Mascots, Kin Killin' Kin

Images from top to bottom: Image of artist, Titus Kaphar, Detail image of The Vesper Project instillation inside CAC and Freedom Center Team on tour at the CAC.

Be sure to follow the Youth Docents on Twitter, @FCYouthDocents! Click here to learn more about the Youth Docent Program at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and how to apply. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - 12:00am

On This Day in History: The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

On this day in 1862, the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln, stating that “if the rebels did not end the fighting and rejoin the Union by January 1, 1863, all slaves in the rebellious states would be free.”  The Confederate Army did not concede and three months later, on the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

The Beginning of Social Justice, Cynthia H. Catlin from And Still We Rise.

When the Civil War began in 1861, President Lincoln sought to preserve the Union rather than end the system of enslavement. Lincoln knew that neither the Union nor the Border States would support abolition as a final outcome, however, by mid-1862, the President was convinced that abolition was the correct military and moral strategy. To solve this dilemma, in early 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was issued but it only freed enslaved persons in states that had already seceded from the Union. At the time, it was thought of as an effective war measure that would cripple the Confederacy, which had used enslaved laborers to support the Confederate Army. However, the Emancipation also set the stage for conversations on the future of human bondage in the United States and would dramatically alter the lives of African Americans once the Civil War ended.

This week, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center president Dr. C.G. Newsome and associate professor of history at Northern Kentucky University Dr. Eric Jackson discussed the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and the Emancipation Proclamation on WVXU’s Cincinnati Edition, highlighting both documents’ place next to America’s founding documents. You can listen to the full episode here.  The Emancipation Proclamation is on display now through August 2016, click here to plan your visit.

Want the latest on upcoming special exhibitions, events and programs?  Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter, and on Facebook for more historical posts and images. 

 

Assia Johnson
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

 

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia:  Connect with History Labor Day Weekend, 50 Years Later: The Voting Rights Act of 1965,  50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 12:00am

52 Anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Today is the anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, where four little girls, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins, died in an attack orchestrated and carried out by members of the Ku Klux Klan.  An attack, as described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that was "one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetuated against humanity."  Over 50 years later and just months after the horrific church shootings in Charleston, we, as a nation, still have more work ahead of us.

To commemorate the anniversary, the city of Birmingham is presenting a week of activities called Empowerment Week, where the entire community is asked to focus on “service, kindness and community impact.” At 10:22 a.m. bells will ring in Birmingham at the exact time of the bombing in 1963, followed by a wreath laying at 10:40 a.m.

Birmingham Bombing, by Sylvia Hernandez. Quilt featured in the traveling exhibit, And Still We Rise.

The bombing marked another major turning point of the Civil Rights Movement, which, paired with the assignation of President Kennedy, moved a grieving nation to support the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law that summer by President Johnson. Passage of the Voting Rights Act would follow in 1965. The special anniversary exhibition celebrating the Voting Rights Act, Power of the Vote, explores the history of voting rights in America, beginning from the Reconstruction Era to present day. See and experience this powerful exhibition before it closes September 26.  

Want the latest on upcoming special exhibitions, events and programs? Click here to plan your visit. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter, and on Facebook for more historical posts and images. 

Assia Johnson
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

Image: Victims of the bombing listed clockwise from top left: Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Cynthia Wesley (aged 14), Carole Robertson (aged 14) and Denise McNair (aged 11).

More authored by Assia:  Connect with History Labor Day Weekend, 50 Years Later: The Voting Rights Act of 1965,  50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

 

Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 3:22pm

Connect with History Labor Day Weekend: September 6 is the Final Sunday of Seasonal Hours!

The summer is winding down and schools around the region are already back in session, which means that Labor Day Weekend is the last opportunity to take advantage of seasonal Sunday hours. The long weekend is also the perfect time to engage with history and learn more about America’s struggle for inclusive freedom in three powerful and thought- provoking exhibitions: The Emancipation Proclamation, Diversity in Baseball and Power of the Vote, all located on the third floor of the museum.

This week, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center announced the extended run of the popular exhibition highlighting baseball’s game changers, Diversity in Baseball, now open through September 26. The immersive exhibit celebrates players who have broken barriers and changed the game, making it more inclusive and reflective of America’s diverse make-up.

The extension of the exhibition comes in the wake of Major League Baseball’s powerful summit presented in partnership with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, entitled A Social Justice Dialogue of Faith, Community and Baseball. The summit was recorded and is available for viewing on mlb.com.

During Cincinnati’s All Star Summer, the Center welcomed baseball fans from around the region as well as legends of the game, including Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, Ed Lucas,  Major League Baseball’s ambassador of inclusion, Billy Bean and daughter of the late Jackie Robinson, Sharon Robinson. Both Robinson and Bean signed panels within the exhibit.

In addition to the summit in the Harriet Tubman Theater, Ed Lucas spoke to a captive audience on the mound inside the exhibit about his decades-long career in baseball as a blind broadcaster. His new novel, Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story, details some of the stories he shared on the mound of overcoming obstacles and interviewing some of the greatest players off all time, many of whom were barrier breakers themselves.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center highlighted with special programming and exhibition, Power of the Vote. The exhibit explores the history of voting rights in America and reveals the stories of lesser -known history of the key players in the struggle for voting rights. This exhibition is perfect for students and teachers alike!

Want the latest on upcoming special exhibitions, events and programs? Click here to view our seasonal hours.  Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter, and on Facebook for more historical posts and images. 

Assia Johnson
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia: 50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

Images: The Eternal Flame, located on the third floor, Billy Bean signing his panel in Diversity in Baseball and Bridges to Cross March, photo by Katie Johnstone. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 4:38pm

Remembering Louis Stokes

Today we share our condolences with the family and friends of Louis Stokes and echo the sentiments of Rep. John Lewis, "he [Stokes] was a gifted public servant who brought dignity to the office and contributed to the public good of the entire nation."

Louis Stokes was a trail blazer, an icon and a friend of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. He was Ohio's first African American U.S. Congressman, serving 15 terms, headed the Congressional Black Caucus and was the first African American on the House Appropriations Committee. A bill cosponsored by Stokes and then Representative Rob Portman to preserve Underground Railroad sites in 1998 paved the way for the founding and development of our institution on the banks of the Ohio River. We honor Stokes' legacy, thank him for his public service and for representing and advocating for equal opportunity for all Americans.

 

 

Thursday, August 20, 2015 - 3:42pm

USA Today picks the John Rankin House as the "hidden gem" to visit in Ohio

A few days ago, USA Today posted an article about hidden gems to visit in each of the 50 states. The John Rankin House, a once very active Underground Railroad station was chosen as Ohio’s “hidden gem.” The home, located in Ripley, Ohio sits on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River. It was built in 1825 and belonged to abolitionist John Rankin, his wife Jean and their thirteen children. The family risked their lives to help free more than 2,000 escaped slaves.

This National Historic Landmark is one of the best-documented Underground Railroad stations. You can take a guided tour of the home and learn how the Rankin family, their neighbors and other nearby communities helped fugitives escape from slavery. During the tour you also learn about Ohio’s role in the abolitionist movement and how it set the stage for the end of slavery as well as the Civil Rights movement.

While visiting the Rankin House you can also enjoy the historic town of Ripley. You can walk Front Street and enjoy the sites and sounds of the Ohio River Scenic Byway. There are beautiful historic homes to see and great local restaurants to enjoy.

 

-Katie Johnstone
Marketing and Communications Intern

Related Content: Rev. John and Jean Rankin

More authored by Katie: World Day Against Trafficking In Persons,#FlameFriday:Toni Stone,  Planning your visit Friday, July 10Misty Copland- First African-American woman promoted at the American Ballet Theatre#FlameFriday: Remembering Officer Kim, and Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign

 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 - 4:39pm

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Today the United Nations observes International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The day is meant to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade and give people a chance to think about the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of the slave trade. This day also pays tribute to those who worked hard to abolish slave trade and slavery throughout the world.

Here at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center you can learn about several people who fought to abolish slavery, like Quakers Catharine and Levi Coffin. The Coffins helped thousands of fugitive slaves to safety in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio through the Underground Railroad.

The coffins became abolitionists when they moved to Newport and overheard stories about fugitive slaves in hiding. Many of the escaped slaves were often recaptured, so Levi Coffin and his wife decided they were going to help. Levi Coffin spread the word to the black community that he would hide slaves in his home. During the winter of 1826-1827 the Coffins provided shelter, transportation, food and clothing for the runaways. Word got around of what the Coffins were doing, and many in the town opposed to their actions. However, there were a few who were willing to risk their lives and join the fight. The coffins worked with the other abolitionists to create a more formal route that could move the slaves smoothly from stop to stop.

In 1839, the Coffins had a two-story, eight-room brick house built with several modifications to create better hiding places. The home became a point of convergence for three major escape routes from Madison and New Albany, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio. It is said that they helped as many as 2,000 runaways during the years they lived in Newport.

By 1847 the Coffins left Newport and moved to Cincinnati. They moved houses several times, until they found a home that could be used to continue their efforts of helping fugitive slaves. The large home they purchased had rooms that were rented out for boarding. With the constant flow of guests coming in and out, it was a perfect cover to create a station for the Underground Railroad. The Coffins continued to hide, feed and clothe runaways. Catharine Coffin started creating costumes in order to better disguise them. She dressed them as cooks, butlers and other household workers.  

As time went on, the Coffins focused on other ways of freeing slaves, but never gave up being abolitionists. They are known for leading so many slaves to freedom. Luckily, they were never caught for their great acts and passed away in the late 1800s due to natural causes. 

-Katie Johnstone
Marketing and Communications Intern

Image One: Levi and Catharine Coffin
Image Two: The Levi Coffin house used to hide fugitive slaves. 

More authored by Katie: World Day Against Trafficking In Persons,#FlameFriday:Toni Stone,  Planning your visit Friday, July 10Misty Copland- First African-American woman promoted at the American Ballet Theatre#FlameFriday: Remembering Officer Kim, and Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign
 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 4:57pm

Jeff Ruby hosts fundraiser for Sonny Kim's family

On Monday, August 24, Jeff Ruby will be hosting a fundraiser for Sonny Kim's family at The Precinct. The cost is $125.00 per person and 100% of the cost will be donated to the family. The food served will be all Ruby classics including USDA Prime Steaks, select sides, the famous Freddie Salad and more. You can make a reservation for this event by calling The Precinct or going to www.JeffRuby.com/Precinct.

This event is in addition to a two-month long donation campaign that is happening at Ruby's Cincinnati restaurants. On each receipt there is a special line where guests can donate to Kim's family.

Click here for more information.

Image one: The Precinct
Image Two: Sonny Kim and his family

More authored by Katie: World Day Against Trafficking In Persons,#FlameFriday:Toni Stone,  Planning your visit Friday, July 10Misty Copland- First African-American woman promoted at the American Ballet Theatre#FlameFriday: Remembering Officer Kim, and Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign

Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 12:00am

50 Years Later: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Today is the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Voting Rights Act.  The landmark legislation was signed into law by President Johnson during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, just months after the historic Selma to Montgomery march. The law was designed to enforce the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments, resulting in the mass enfranchisement of minorities throughout the country and the South, where black citizens were denied the right to vote by way of intimidation, literacy tests and other unjust practices.  

The Voting Rights Act was originally set to expire five years after its passing. However, congress would recognize the continued need for legislation that protected voting rights five more times; in 1970, 1975, 1982, 1992 and 2006. During those reviews, Congress either amended or added to various provisions in each renewal of the Voting Rights Act.

In 2013, the landmark U.S Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder, the court determined that section 4 (b), which established a formula to determine areas where racial discrimination had been more prevalent, was unconstitutional. The case argued that Congress exceeded its authority by re-authorizing the Voting Rights Act while relying on voting data more than 40 years old. The nation's reaction was one of shock and many voiced that the decision weakened the law's authority. Recently, President Obama called for the restoration of the section in the law, emphasizing the importance of legislation that protects the civil liberties of its citizens.

To commemorate this important anniversary, The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC), National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) and Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency (CAA) are co-sponsoring commemorative march across the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge this Saturday, August 8 at 9 a.m. Leaders from each partnering organization spoke about the event on WVXU Cincinnati Edition

Marchers are invited to complete “I March for _____” response cards to raise awareness about what society is still marching for today. The response cards be turned into action items by local Cincinnati agencies, who will reconvene throughout the year and lead community discussions inspired by the response cards. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will host a program immediately following the march, featuring local activists and veteran activists, including Freedom Rider Betty Daniels Rosemond, addressing the topic: “Cincinnati 50 Years Ago”. Additionally, all are welcome to weigh in via Twitter by using the hashtag #IMarch4Cincy.  Learn more about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Power of the Vote, now on exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

Assia Johnson

Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Images: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights activists leading thousands of nonviolent marchers on a 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery.  Second Image: President Johnson with Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights leaders during the signing of the Voting Rights Act, August 6, 1965. 

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia: 50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 - 9:34pm

Sam DuBose: Black Lives Matter

The eyes of the nation are on Cincinnati. Today the Hamilton County Grand Jury returned an indictment for murder in the tragic shooting death of Samuel DuBose during a routine traffic stop just over one week ago. During that time the DuBose family has called repeatedly for only nonviolent responses while seeking answers from the criminal justice system.  That answer is now at hand and the family’s continued calls for nonviolent response to ensure that his peaceful way of life can be remembered purely should be respectfully honored. At the same time our community must continue to have open and transparent dialogue as we look deeper into our nation’s racial disparities and seek freedom and justice for all.  The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center stands ready to be a convener and provide a safe haven for these conversations. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the DuBose family during this difficult time. We echo their call for peace and join them in their belief that the judicial process will reflect integrity and yield a just outcome. 

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