Voices

Freedom Center Voices

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.

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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. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 - 9:42am

NFL hires first female coach

Jen Welter, 37, made history last month, July 27, when she was hired by the Arizona Cardinals – the first female coach in the National Football League.

Welter, who holds a master’s degree in sports psychology and a PhD in psychology, will be working with the Cardinals’ inside linebackers during training camp and preseason as an assistant coaching intern, drawing on her own 14 years of experience as a linebacker.

“Coaching is nothing more than teaching,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Monday. “One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.’ I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.”

Throughout her career, Welter has broken gender barriers in football. In February 2014, she became the first female to play in a non-kicking position in a men’s professional league, and earlier this year she became the first female coach in a men’s professional football league. In 2010 and 2013, she won two gold medals when she played for Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Photo: Jen Welter poses in front of a Cardinals backdrop. (Credit: FOX Sports)

Related Content: Diversity in Baseball

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Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 12:39pm

Kerner Commission Established on this Day, 1967

On July 27, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (AKA the Kerner Commission), tasked with assessing the causes of widespread urban rioting at the time. President Johnson asked the 11-member commission, “What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again?”

This came about soon after the infamous 12th Street Riots in Detroit, Michigan, which left more than 40 people dead and 1000 injured.

The report, issued on February 29 of the next year, blamed the more than 150 riots between 1965 and 1968 on “white racism” instead of African-American political groups like some believed. Specifically, it identified confrontations between predominately white police forces and the predominately African-American communities they served. It also cautioned against radical responses by the black community, such as the policy of separatism advocated by some.

It concluded that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal” and called for “programs on a scale equal to the dimension of the problems” in response. The authors recommended nation-wide changes to policies that could increase aid to African American communities in order to halt further racial violence and polarization, especially in employment, education, welfare and housing.

A confluence of events and political opinions in the following years, including the assassination of civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led to the recommendations of the Kerner Commission Report being largely ignored; President Johnson accepted the report but not the conclusions. This milestone document did pave the way for progress in future decades on issues of racial inequality, but its findings unfortunately still ring true today.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Photo: President Johnson poses with the newly appointed Kerner Commission, 1967.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 12:25pm

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

In 2013, the General Assembly of the United Nations came together to dedicate a day to raising awareness about human trafficking and the situations of the victims involved and to promote and protect their rights. Today, July 30, is the day the General Assembly chose to make World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. The meeting also resulted in the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, which gives grants to non-governmental organizations that provide direct assistance to victims from human trafficking.  

Human Trafficking is an unfortunate on-going issue that is happening all over the world.  It is estimated that 2.5 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery. Men, women and children are being treated as slaves within their own country and abroad. Traffickers use violence, deception, threats, and other manipulative tactics to trap victims into horrific situations against their will. The brutality and injustice these victims face shatter their lives and dreams.

There are five different types of human trafficking that this day raises awareness for:

1. Forced Labor- when human beings are forced to work for no pay or under the threat of violence.
2. Bonded Labor/Debt Labor- slavery in which an individual is compelled to work in order to repay a debt and cannot leave until the debt has been paid off.
3. Sex Slavery- when women, men or children are exploited in the commercial sex industry, which may include: prostitution, pornography, erotic entertainment, strip clubs, online escort services, hostess clubs, residential brothels or fake massage parlors.
4. Child Slavery- when children under the age of 18 are forced into child labor, which could be debt bondage, armies, prostitution, domestic work or other forms of hazardous work.
5. Domestic Servitude- when slaves are forced to work in extremely hidden workplaces and have no option of leaving.

Human trafficking tends to be an issue most people do not know about or completely understand. You can help be a part of the fight against human trafficking by learning how you can raise awareness in your community and globally. You can also learn more about human trafficking at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center by visiting the exhibit Invisible: Slavery Today.

Image Credit: UN website

Related Content:  Invisible: Slavery Today

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 4:09pm

The Youth Pages Toledo App

Human trafficking is a big issue in our country and that is the reason why The Youth Pages Toledo app was created. The app is geared towards children and teenagers because they are most vulnerable to human trafficking. It provides information about the warning signs of human trafficking, including drug abuse, homelessness or runaway status and control by a boyfriend or other individual. The app also provides information like phone numbers and websites on where the youth can go to get help for drugs, health, school, money and work.

The app was developed jointly by the University of Toledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, the United Way of Greater Toledo, and the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition. It cost about $19,000 to develop and was heavily funded by grants from the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund and the Zonta Club of Toledo. The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority plans to create signs to promote the app on all of their buses by Fall. They have also trained their drivers to recognize situations among their passengers and along routes that may suggest trafficking or related issues.

The app can be downloaded for free on both Android and iPhone devices with English and Spanish versions.

-Katie Johnstone
Marketing and Communications Intern

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 3:26pm

Freedom Center’s Hathaway debunks myths about human trafficking

Brooke Hathaway, manager of anti-trafficking programs for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, recently wrote a post published on the International Human Trafficking Institute’s website addressing myths about modern-day human trafficking.

Hathaway is also the executive director of End Slavery Now, which advocates for awareness of human trafficking and seeks to inspire everyone to take the courageous steps against slavery today.

In the post, she calls out sensationalist social media posts for perpetuating the myths that trafficking is a crime of kidnapping, that trafficking is an impulsive crime, and that middle-class women and girls are the most vulnerable.

On the contrary, Hathaway explains, human trafficking is much more commonly based on trusting relationships between the trafficker and victim, which develop purposefully over time, and it disproportionately affects minorities and disadvantaged groups.

“While interest in human trafficking demonstrates growing awareness about the issue, it does not translate to any increased understanding of the human pain and tragedy,” she cautions, encouraging readers to gain deeper knowledge about the realities of trafficking. “Consequently, it does not result in any change in individuals’ behaviors or attitudes.”

Click here to read Hathaway’s piece and to watch an interview with her about these myths.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Photo: Freedom Center Manager of Anti-Trafficking Programs Brooke Hathaway. Provided.

Related Content:  Invisible: Slavery Today

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 2:50pm

Local woman to compete in Special Olympics World Games

The Cincinnati area can cheer on for a local in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, which begins this Saturday in Los Angeles.

Danielle Blakeney, 24, of Erlanger in Northern Kentucky will compete with 7,000 athletes from 177 countries in this global celebration of skill, courage, teamwork and joy.

Blakeney, who has been a Special Olympics athlete for 17 years, is the only participant from Northern Kentucky and one of three from the state. She will compete in rhythmic gymnastics this year, and the preliminary competition will begin at 5:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, July 26. In the past, she has also competed in artistic gymnastics, track and field and cheerleading.

“Special Olympics is important to me ... because it lets me learn to be the best I can be, has given me great friends and coaches and the chance to travel that I would otherwise not have ever had,” Blakeney said in a statement. “I have become a more confident person and stronger against people being mean.”

This will be Blakeney’s second Special Olympics World Games. In 2011, she won three Gold, one Silver and one Bronze medal in Athens, Greece, and she also competed in the USA Games in 2010 and 2014. She is an advocate for the Special Olympics in her home state, having traveled to the Kentucky capitol earlier this year to support a tax return donation bill.

According to the Special Olympics website, “Through the power of sport, Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people.” It has been an annual event since its beginning in 1968.

The games will run through August 2 and are expected to attract 80,000 spectators in-house and millions more watching the ESPN broadcast. The opening ceremonies will be broadcast live on ESPN Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

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Photo: Blakeney competed in the Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games last month. (Credit: provided to The Cincinnati Enquirer)

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 10:13am

Cincinnati Sit-in a "protest of normalcy"

When Robin Martin moved to Cincinnati in 2007, she noticed that most of the people in the placed she frequented didn’t look like her, she said in an opinion piece to The Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday, July 20.

“Cincinnati is the most segregated city I’ve lived in.” she wrote, citing her time in New Orleans, California and Houston. “It doesn’t have to be, though.”

After several years, Martin decided to do something about the lack of integration she saw in restaurants and other social outing locations. In summer 2013, she launched the Cincinnati Sit-in (CSI), modeled after the Woolworth sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement, in which she and 24 friends simply spent time in places where they might be the only black faces.

Martin explained that CSI is a “protest of normalcy” and is designed to spark conversations about why Cincinnati seems to be racially segregated in certain places. What started out as a small group in 2013 has since grown into a community of 65 black professionals who are, as Martin wrote, “determined to change the face of local businesses and communities.”

“Next time you take your family out to dinner, quietly take inventory around the room and see who’s missing,” she said. “Consider how we as a community include or exclude differences… If you notice an absence, I challenge everyone to seek answers purposefully, until we see change.”

To learn more about CSI and Martin’s observations about racial and ethnic integration in Cincinnati, read her opinion piece here.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Photo: Robin Martin is associate provote for special initiatives at the University of Cincinnati. (Photo provided to The Cincinnati Enquirer)

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 12:26pm

OH Human Trafficking Task Force makes recommendations

Ohio plans to further improve services for victims of trafficking, the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force announced in a report on Monday, July 20.

At the top of the priority list: faster access for victims to recovery services like shelters or drug treatments.

The report also outlines plans to increase public awareness and police access to information about tracking human trafficking, as well as a legal path for victims to have their records expunged of charges that came about as a result of being forced into the sex trade.

“Ohio’s progress in combating trafficking is both exciting and sobering,” wrote Ohio’s Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Elizabeth Ranade Janis in the introduction to the report. “More victims have access to justice and more offenders are being punished... However these efforts confirm what advocates already know—more victims will come out of the shadows of exploitation, more intensive law enforcement investigations will be necessary to lock up traffickers, and more trauma-informed care will need to be made available for survivors.”

The recommendations will be implemented by state-level and county-level departments and officials, like the Department of Medicaid, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Job and Family Services.

Three years ago, the task force made 26 other recommendations, almost all of which have been put into place by now. For example, in 2012 the state penalty for human trafficking was upgraded to a first-degree felony, which can come with up to 15 years in prison.

The report estimates roughly one thousand children – mostly young girls between 13 and 18 years of age – are forced into sex trafficking in Ohio each year. Other victims might be forced into sweatshop-like jobs.

Join the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center this Thursday at 3 p.m. for a gallery talk on modern-day human trafficking with representatives from End Slavery Now.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Related Content:  Invisible: Slavery Today

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