Message from the President

A Message from President Woodrow Keown, Jr.
A Message from President Woodrow Keown, Jr.
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During this time of incredible upheaval and uncertainty more people are starting to understand that our world is much smaller, and much more connected than some may have realized.

We are witnessing a virus spread rampantly to all corners of the globe that is disrupting how we live our daily lives, how we treat each other, even what we would give up for the betterment of our neighbors. I’m left to wonder, if a virus and its concerted response can spread so widely, can’t an idea, a movement spread just as far?

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is built on the pillars of courage, cooperation and perseverance and we strive daily for inclusive freedom for all – equitable freedom regardless of race, ethnicity, who you love, who you do or do not pray to or where you grew up. Strategically speaking, we have chosen to focus our resources and build organizational capability in three core competency areas: 1) the era of the Underground Railroad, 2) modern day enslavement and 3) social justice.  Your support is critical in helping us fan the flame of freedom, not just in our local community, but throughout our nation and global community. And your support is needed now more than ever.

Currently, the Freedom Center is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each month during this temporary closure in terms of lost revenue. On top of this, we are incurring the continued expense of keeping the building operational, which is critical for the proper care of our exhibits and collections. Even in our reduced operating model, we are operating at a loss each month we are closed. We think it is important to retain our highly regarded and talented staff to deliver our mission.

If you are able, please consider a donation to our COVID-19 Closure Fund. This fund was established to help bridge the current financial gap and, together, we can continue to be a bold force and leading voice in the struggle for inclusive freedom.  Simply click on the following link to donate:

Our effort to reveal stories of freedom’s heroes and to challenge and inspire everyone to take courageous steps for freedom today has not been diminished in this moment. In fact, we are choosing to accelerate the adjustment of our operating models to reach our clientele in different ways. For example, we are increasing our online offerings, including inspiring blog posts, enlightening lesson plans, online exhibits and thought-provoking prompts that encourage self-reflection. Additionally, we have worked to extend our current special exhibition Motel X – which combats human trafficking through education and action – through September 13, 2020.

We continue to examine what the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center looks like when it reopens on the other side of this pandemic. We are working diligently to establish new cleaning protocols and crowd management measures that will ensure our guests feel safe and comfortable when they return. We are following the guidance of government and health officials to determine the most prudent date to reopen. Until then, please connect with us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn.

I hope you’ll consider supporting us at this time as we continue to fan the flame of inclusive freedom.

Stay well.

Woodrow Keown, Jr., President and COO
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center