Union Baptist Cemetery: Vandalized Sacred Grounds

Freedom Center Voices

Union Baptist Cemetery: Vandalized Sacred Grounds

The city of Cincinnati in the free state of Ohio, located in the Northwest Territory bordered Virginia and Kentucky on the south, Indiana on the west and Michigan on the north.  Two hundred and fifty miles to the north, Canada offered physical freedom to people of African descent who were in flight from enslavement.  Cincinnati, America’s 6th largest city in the early 1800’s geographically appeared to offer an ideal location to Black people seeking to start building new, free lives.  However, the dark legacy of race would follow them to church where they were required to sit in the rear of the sanctuary and submit to many of the racist social policies of the South from which they had fled.

In July 1831, 14 Black worshippers left the Enon Baptist Church and formed the African Union Baptist Church which would become known as the Freedom Church.  There was no place of respectful burial, interment for Blacks within the city limits.  Black people were buried in unmarked graves in the Potters’ Field and in shallow graves along the often-flooded Mill Creek that emptied into the Ohio River sweeping the remains of Black people to the South from which they had fled.

In 1865 the leaders of the Union Baptist Church found and purchased 16 acres of dry ground 5 miles west and 300 feet above the then-city limits and neighborhoods in which most of Black Cincinnati lived.  Construction workers, stevedores and day laborers from the Cincinnati waterfront, domestics, and wash women lie among butlers, chauffeurs, and the men who labored in the killing grounds of America’s largest stock yards in the 1800’s.

First Sargent Powhatan Beatty, a member of the Black Brigade, the first African American military unit composed of 700 volunteers who crossed the Ohio River at Cincinnati’s Walnut Street unarmed in 1862 and built many of the rifle pits and forts in Kentucky that protected Cincinnati from Confederate troops who defeated White Union troops at Richmond, Kentucky is interred at Union along with 50 of his companions.  Sargent Beatty would receive a Congressional Medal of Honor for leading Black troops at Chapin’s Farm in Virginia as they moved south from Petersburg to Richmond.  Peter Fossett, who was enslaved at Monticello, and who after his family purchased his freedom, became a leading caterer in Cincinnati is buried there.  Jennie D. Porter, the first Black woman to receive a PhD from the University of Cincinnati and Sarah Fossett who led the campaign to build the Colored Orphanage in the 1830’s are reflective of the little-known rich cross-section of Cincinnati’s Black antebellum population.

Time and vandals have attacked the quiet place of memory and burial of those often-denied full citizenship in Cincinnati, Ohio during their lives.  The request for funding for the restoration of the Union Baptist Cemetery will honor and memorialize the rich and diverse history of all of Cincinnati’s citizens.  The Union Baptist Church and its Cemetery, for the last 188 years have given religious, cultural and historical guidance to the African American community in Cincinnati.  The cemetery was the first place where people of African descent could, and to this day, is one of the few places in this region, that continues to preserve the historic and cultural legacy of 40% of Cincinnati’s population.

Carl B. Westmoreland

Senior Historian, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Trustee Emeritus, National Trust for Historic Preservation

What Guests are Saying: A Visit from Middletown Middle School

Freedom Center Voices

What Guests are Saying: A Visit from Middletown Middle School

As we continue to deliver powerful museum experiences, we would like to take a brief moment to share some of the testimonials from a group of eighth graders from Middletown Middle School that recently visited the museum. Here’s what students and teachers had to say…

Dear National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Staff,

A few of our students wanted to personally thank you for the experience you shared with them at Freedom Center on 2/26. We appreciate you taking the time to show us all around. We wouldn’t have been able to come if it weren’t for the grant we received from you, so thank you!


Casey S.

Middletown Middle School Teacher

Dear People from the Freedom Center,

Thank you for showing me the Freedom Center and giving me a better clue of what it was like for slaves and what they had to go through.

Thank you,

Blake A.

MMS Student


Dear People of the Freedom Center,

I was glad to learn about slavery and how they were freed. Bless everyone that died to save some of the slaves. Another thing that amazed me was seeing the bridge from the third floor!

Hector C.

MMS Student

Receiving these letters reminds us why it’s important to keep fighting for freedom for everyone. To the students of Middletown Middle School, you are our future. Thank you and we hope you will return soon.

To schedule your school group for a visit to National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, contact James Harrington at (513) 333-7523 or email schoolgroups@nurfc.org. #MyNURFC

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to Host Freedom 55: The Crossroads of Identity and Experiences in the LGBTQ Community – Press Release

Freedom Center Voices


National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to Host Freedom 55: The Crossroads of Identity and Experiences in the LGBTQ Community

Discussion provides an in-depth look at the journey to freedom while highlighting the barriers that still exist in the LGBTQ Community

CINCINNATI, OH (March 5, 2019) – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will host Freedom 55: The Crossroads of Identity and Experiences in the LGBTQ Community on Wednesday, March 13 beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and followed by a discussion at 6:20 p.m. The panel discussion is a continuation of the Freedom 55 programming series that includes screenings, book signings, lectures and musical performances throughout 2019 commemorating the 55th anniversary of Freedom Summer. The program is free and open to the public. RSVPs are required.

Freedom 55: The Crossroads of Identity and Experiences in the LGBTQ Community features a distinguished panel that will discuss experiences in the LGBTQ community and issues pertaining to race/ethnicity, generation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and faith/religious affiliation. The discussion is organized and moderated by Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Jennifer A. Ingram. The panelists include Activist, Author and Founder of Black Cincy Pride, Tim'm West; University of Cincinnati Assistant Professor of Political Science, Dr. Tia Sheree Gaynor; Minister and Entrepreneur, Reverend Derek Terry, and Lighthouse Youth and Family Services Director of Safe and Supported, Melissa Meyer.

“Too often we limit our ideas of who has a right to freedoms and what that means,” says Jacqueline Dace, deputy director at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “This conversation provides insight from within the LGBTQ community and offers a space where they can share their experiences with others.”

Freedom 55: The Crossroads of Identity and Experieneces in the LGBTQ Community is a part of a series of discussions commemorating the 55th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a 1964 voter registration drive, also known as the Mississippi Summer project. The goal was to end the prevailing discriminatory and segregated voting system through increased voter registration of African Americans. In preparation, hundreds of student volunteers gathered for two, one-week orientation sessions from June 14 to June 27, 1964 at Western College for Women (present day Miami University) in Oxford, OH.

The Freedom 55: The Crossroads of Identity and Experiences in the LGBTQ Community discussion is Wednesday, March 13 at 6:20 p.m. at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. This program is free and open to the public. RSVPs are required. For more information and to RSVP, visit freedomcenter.org.

Contact: Will Jones
Marketing and Communications Manager
(513) 333-7558
(513) 802-7355

#WearBlueDay: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Freedom Center Voices

#WearBlueDay: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

In 2007, the US Senate established January 11th as the National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness. In 2010, President Barack Obama declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Part of the US government’s information campaign about combating human trafficking and modern day enslavement is #WearBlueDay, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security. What can you do to honor this important day?

Wear Blue

Participating in #WearBlueDay is simple. You can put on a blue article of clothing or pin a blue ribbon on your shirt or lapel. Some individuals and groups get a little bit more ambitious. For example, some cities and municipalities light up local landmarks, buildings, or bridges with blue light. Regardless of how you choose to participate you are encouraged to take pictures and circulate them on social media. Creativity is encouraged!

Educate Yourself

While spreading awareness on social media is important, it is vital to take the extra step of educating yourself in order to become a modern day abolitionist. One great resource is End Slavery Now, a project of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a site filled with educational resources and action ideas to help answer the question, “What can I do?”

For example, you can learn to recognize the signs that someone you encounter is being trafficked, such as:

  • They are accompanied by someone who insists on speaking for them, even if they are a teenager or adult.
  • They do not seem to know what city they are in.
  • They are uneasy around uniformed personnel.
  • If in an airport or hotel, they do not have luggage or a carry-on bag.

Of course, these are not definite signs someone is being trafficked, but a combination of them should serve as a red flag. If you suspect someone is being trafficked, you should call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Become a Modern Day Abolitionist

End Slavery Now also includes information about other organizations combating the scourge of modern day enslavement. These range from large NGOs like Polaris to local charities like End Slavery Cincinnati. Large or small, all share the same goal:  to eradicate slavery in all its forms. Many of these organizations post job or volunteer opportunities if you are looking to become a modern day abolitionist.

This National Human Trafficking Awareness month, opt to educate yourself about the realities of human trafficking and modern day enslavement. Know what’s out there and what you can do about it. It’s a new year so it’s the perfect time to adopt a new commitment to fight the good fight!

Jonathan Turbin, Coordinator of Initiatives against Modern Day Slavery

End Slavery Now and works to build relationships among anti-trafficking organizations in and around Cincinnati. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oregon.

Legalizing the Fight to Freedom

Freedom Center Voices

Legalizing the Fight to Freedom

As I was doing research about the Montgomery Bus Boycott for my #381Days campaign, I didn’t think of looking at the actual city codes of Montgomery, Alabama. It wasn’t until a colleague mentioned that the city ordinance was very ambiguous that I decided to look into it.

One thing many people don’t know is that Rosa Parks was not legally in the wrong for being unwilling to move from her seat. That morning, Parks was sitting in the front row of the colored section, which was largely empty. When the white section started to fill, the bus driver, James Blake, moved the ‘colored section’ sign before ordering Rosa Parks to move back.

The city code of Montgomery in 1955, chapter 6; section 10 states: “Every person operating a bus line in the city shall provide equal but separate accommodations for white people and negroes on their bus.” On the other hand, bus company policy allowed drivers to assign bus seats. So, the situation seems to have been a little ambiguous when it came to whether or not Parks was “breaking the law”.

In my last post, I mentioned that this was not the first time that Parks had encountered Blake on the bus line. In a previous incident, Parks had paid for her bus ticket at the front of the bus and tried to re-enter from the back of the bus. Before she could get on, Blake pulled off and left  Parks at the stop. After this, Ms. Parks wasn’t keen to accommodate this particular bus driver.

Despite the fact that black bus passengers were in the majority at that time, there was very little courtesy given to them. The city bus line was unfair in many ways, such as:

  • The City didn’t hire black bus drivers
  • Drivers made them move from seats for many different reasons
  • Drivers purposefully failed to make stops
  • Drivers didn’t comply with the first come first serve policy

Rosa Parks is a prime example that even the smallest of gestures can lead to a bigger journey. Think about what life would be like if she hadn’t used her voice and to stand up for her principles that day. Think about what our world could be like if you stood up for what you believe today as well.

Blog 2 of a 3-part series. Read Part 1: #381Days: Honoring Rosa Parks and 65 Years Since the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Merrisha Dickerson, Marketing Intern

Merrisha is a student at Northern Kentucky University. Throughout her internship she has worked to create content for social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for the Freedom Center. She has enjoyed learning how to communicate with different types of people in different departments around the museum and learning something new each day.

Human Rights Day and the Continued Struggle for Inclusive Freedom

Freedom Center Voices

Human Rights Day and the Continued Struggle for Inclusive Freedom

Every year on December 10 we recognize Human Rights Day—an UN holiday created to celebrate the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Today is the 70th anniversary of this historic doctrine.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the most translated document in the world (available in 500 languages) and proclaims “the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being –regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

This year, the slogan for Human Rights Day is #StandUp4HumanRights and encourages simple philosophies, such as the idea that we all deserve human rights, that by practicing equality and justice we prevent violence, and stand up our rights and the rights of others. So, what does Human Rights Day mean in the world of museums? How can we encourage those to #StandUp4HumanRights in cultural institutions?

Here at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC), we encourage those to fight for inclusive freedom—an idea emphasized in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our mission allows us to discuss the difficult histories of America’s past while also encouraging inclusive freedom for her future.

At NURFC, we weave the idea of standing up for human rights into everything we do—from programming, to exhibitions, community led conversations, and guided school tours. Because of our mission, we can talk about our history and the idea of human rights. We are also a certified Museum of Conscience.

Site of Conscience, or a Museum of Conscience, is a classification given to historic sites, museums, and memory initiatives by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience—a global network of institutions that connect past struggles to today’s movements for human rights. Their slogan—turning memory into action—is a patch we proudly wear here at NURFC.

By being a part of this international network, NURFC can encourage those to continue the theme of Human Rights Day and encourage visitors to #StandUp4HumanRights.

Katie Bramell, Manager of Exhibitions & Collections
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Katie’s passion is sharing the untold stories of history, and she loves to think of new, creative ways to engage museum visitors. She is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University (Masters of Public History) and the University of Central Missouri (Bachelors of History). Her primary fields of study include the Underground Railroad, human rights, and early 20th century American History.

Quality Special Education is a Civil Right

Freedom Center Voices

Quality Special Education is a Civil Right

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and we’re thinking about this year’s theme of inclusion and equality, especially in terms of special education as a civil right. Meet #MyNURFC Events Manager Jessica Roncker and her older brother Neill.

Neill battled epilepsy and brain damage from meningitis as a boy, but graduated from Pleasant Ridge Elementary School and Woodward High School despite his disability. Jessica calls Neill “one of the lucky ones” because when their parents were unhappy with his educational options, their mother, Mary Ann Roncker, decided to take the school district to court.

With the help of the Ohio Legal Rights Service, Mary Ann battled the Cincinnati Board of Education from 1979 to 1983 for Neill’s right to attend special education classes in a regular school environment. Roncker v. Walter cited both the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment and the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of 1954 and was finally won in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals when the US Supreme Court declined to hear it.

The win established the basis for the Roncker portability test which questions whether a segregated environment is better than a mainstreaming program and ensures that services be provided in a non-segregated setting if possible. It set a standard for the principle of Least Restrictive Environment, the idea that children in special education should spend as much appropriate time as possible with non-disabled peers.

"On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to work together for a better world that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for everyone, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realized." — António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

You can learn more about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities here.

Remembering John Brown

Freedom Center Voices

Remembering John Brown

On this day 159 years ago, John Brown was executed by way of hanging in Charles Town, Virginia (present day West Virginia). His crime? The failed raid of a military armory located in Harpers Ferry, VA.

Brown was born in Torrington, Connecticut in 1800 to a family of abolitionists. Like his family, Brown adopted what many would later refer to as “extreme anti-slavery” views. For the 1830s, these views were more radical than many mainstream white abolitionists were comfortable with. Brown believed that slavery was the United States “greatest sin,” and dedicated his life to eradicate it. He moved to abolitionists communities like Springfield, Massachusetts where he would frequently listen to lectures by Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass—who he would later count as one of his closest friends—and worked with Underground Railroad abolitionists like Harriet Tubman.

At age 55, Brown moved to the Kansas Territory with his adults sons to aide support for the anti-slavery forces engaged in a violent border war with pro-slavery forces. It was in Kansas that John Brown would earn his militant reputation that would dominate literature about him for years following. In May 1856, Brown and his sons were accused of killing five men in the pro-slavery settlement of Pottawatomie, KS after anti-slavery settlers were attacked in Lawrence, KS. The incident would later be referred to as the “Pottawatomie Massacre.”

A year after Kansas, Brown began to make plans for his next big mission—an armed insurrection at the military armory located in Harpers Ferry. Brown believed that with this attack, weapons from the armory could be seized, given to enslaved African Americans, and used to spark an anti-slavery rebellion. A rebellion that Brown believed would end slavery in the United States once and for all. This was 1857, the same year the Supreme Court of the United States delivered a devastating blow to the anti-slavery cause with the Dred Scott decision. Brown and his many supporters believed after the Dred Scott decision there would be no peaceful end to slavery.

On October 16, 1859 Brown led 18 men—13 white and 5 formerly enslaved African Americans—into Harpers Ferry, VA. They captured federal buildings, cut telegraph wires, killed four people and wounded nine. Brown believed that once inside the armory that locally enslaved people would come to their aid to help hold the ferry, but that never happened. After a 36-hour stand-off, eight of Brown’s men were either killed or captured while five, including one of Brown’s son, escaped. Brown was wounded in the attack and taken to jail in Charles Town, present day West Virginia.

On Nov. 2, 1859 Brown was found guilty of all charges brought against him, including conspiracy, inciting servile insurrection and treason against the state. He was sentenced to death by way of hanging. On the date of his execution, more than 1,000 troops arrived to protect the execution for fear there would be an attempt to rescue Brown. Unable to make a final statement before his execution, Brown wrote a note in his cell before arriving to the gallows:

“I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

History has an interesting way of remember John Brown. Often, he is depicted appearing wild and crazed, with a look of insanity in his eyes. But was John Brown wrong? He said himself many of times, slavery would not end peacefully; it would have to “be purged away with blood.” The Civil War, which erupted only 16 months after Brown’s execution, proved the validity of Brown’s claim.

Personally, I believe Frederick Douglass said it best in a speech delivered in memory of his friend on the 14 year anniversary of Harpers Ferry in May 1881:

“If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery, he did at least begin the war that ended slavery. If we look over the dates, places and men for which this honor is claimed, we shall find that not Carolina, but Virginia, not Fort Sumter, but Harpers Ferry, and the arsenal, not Col. Anderson, but John Brown, began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic. Until this blow was struck, the prospect for freedom was dim, shadowy and uncertain. The irrepressible conflict was one of words, votes and compromises.”

So on this date, 159 years later, let’s remember the legacy of John Brown—the man who started the war that would end slavery.

Katie Bramell, Manager of Exhibitions & Collections
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Katie has a passion for sharing the untold stories of history and loves to think of new, creative ways to engage museum visitors. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a Master's degree in Public History and the University of Central Missouri with a Bachelor's degree in History. Her primary field of study includes Underground Railroad history, human rights history, and early 20th century American History.

You Can’t Get AIDS From A Hug: Why We Honor World AIDS Day

Freedom Center Voices

You Can’t Get AIDS From A Hug: Why We Honor World AIDS Day

One of my earliest memories is walking through the hallways of my elementary school seeing posters with sayings like “you can’t get AIDS from a hug and a kiss.” This would have been around the time President Ronald Reagan finally started mentioning the word “AIDS” during speeches and press conferences. By that time over 5,000 residents of the United States – not to mention countless more around the globe -- had passed away from the disease. Many of these individuals were members of populations who faced widespread discrimination. Some of these groups included gay men, transgender women, Haitian immigrants and refugees, sex workers, and people addicted to IV drugs. My uncle Myron who left behind a long-term partner, Pedro, was one of these early deaths.

You can’t get AIDS Poster

HIV/AIDS and Marginalization

The vulnerability of oppressed populations to HIV/AIDS infection is a major reason why the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) is honoring World AIDS Day. While it is well known – or should be – that straight, white men of means can and do get infected, African Americans, LGBT folks, and lower income communities are still at higher risk. According to the CDC, in 2016 4,560 African American women received an HIV diagnosis, compared with 1,450 white women and 1,168 Hispanic/Latina women [1]. While this rate of infection is lower than in past years, it is still unacceptably high especially when taking into account the fact that African Americans comprise 12% of the US population.

Meanwhile, while rates of HIV infection among gay men has stabilized, as of 2014 this population comprised 56% of new HIV cases [2]. Young African American gay men – a minority within a minority -- account for more new cases of HIV infection in the United States than any other population [3]. The reasons for this are much the same as back in the 80s when those PSA posters went up around my school; fewer official support networks, more obstacles to public health interventions, and less access to accurate information.

HIV, Trafficking, and Human Rights

HIV/AIDS is also, sadly, highly relevant to NURFC’s involvement in the fight against modern-day enslavement. Sex trafficking is not only a humanitarian crisis, but also a public health one. Survivors of this atrocity are at substantial risk of HIV infection. This is due in part to the factors described above, not least of which are a lack of support networks and access to education. However, there is an even more sinister force at play. According to a 2013 study conducted by Harvard’s School of Public Health, women who are forced into sex work typically experience sexual violence. They are also unable to insist that their clients use safer sex techniques. This increases the likelihood of HIV infection 11-fold, as opposed to women who report entering the sex industry voluntarily [4]. HIV positive trafficking victims have little hope of obtaining treatment and may even be abandoned by their traffickers once they become too sick to service clients. It is also important to remember that women and girls trapped in other forms of modern day enslavement, such as forced labor and domestic servitude, are vulnerable to sexual assault and have few avenues for recourse.

Curbing sex trafficking is a major step towards reducing rates of HIV infection. Framing the fight against modern day enslavement in this way could be a major step towards the elimination of both crises. At the same time, it is important not to demonize people living with HIV/AIDS, particularly if they are trafficking victims. Doing so is a form of re-victimization. Fortunately many organizations, such as the joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, have started tackling issues such as this from a human rights standpoint.

Fight HIV/AIDS, not People Living with HIV/AIDS

It has been over 20 years since I saw those HIV/AIDS PSAs on the walls of my elementary school. Since then I’ve grown up, graduated high school and college, and come out as a gay man. I’ve made many friends, some of them people living with HIV/AIDS, from all walks of life. In some cases, I’ve been with them in the counselor’s office as they receive life changing news.

At the same time, I’ve witnessed HIV/AIDS go from death sentence to manageable medical condition. I’ve seen the stigma of HIV infection lessen (at least here in the US). I’ve also seen hopeful signs that there may be a cure, or at least a vaccine, in my lifetime. HIV medications have also become less hard on a person’s system.

Regardless: people living with HIV/AIDS, be they a classmate or a trafficking victim – or both – are not the enemy. They need love, support, and the occasional hug just as much as anyone. After all, you really can’t get AIDS from a hug.

Jonathan Turbin, Modern-Day Slavery Coordinator
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

As Coordinator of Initiatives against Modern Day Slavery, Jonathan oversees the site End Slavery Now and works to build relationships among anti-trafficking organizations in and around Cincinnati. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oregon.


[1] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/racialethnic/africanamericans/index.html (accessed 11/27/2018)
[2] https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/factsheets/cdc-msm-508.pdf (accessed 11/27/2018)
[3] Ibid (accessed 11/27/2018)
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3626049/ (accessed 11/28/2018)

#381Days: Honoring Rosa Parks and 65 Years Since the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Freedom Center Voices

#381Days: Honoring Rosa Parks and 65 Years Since the Montgomery Bus Boycott

December 1, 2018 is the 63rd anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In Ohio, it’s also Rosa Parks Day, the anniversary date of her famous arrest on December 1, 1955. We will honor the great Rosa Parks during the month of December through a social media campaign called #381Days.

The deeper story of Rosa Parks’ life was the inspiration for this campaign. The fact that she was such an educated woman that stood up for what she believed in, despite the fact that her whole world changed is pretty remarkable. Many know that when Rosa refused to move from her seat in 1955, she became an iconic face in the civil rights movement. What many don't remember is that she was intensely active in that movement as well.

Parks had a previous run in with bus driver James Blake about a year prior to the day of her arrest. Ever since then, she worked with the NAACP to fight for the rights of the African American community. Following her arrest, the Women’s Political Council called for a 1-day boycott in which they expected 60% of the black community to participate. To everyone's surprise, 90% of the black community became involved.

Due to the large percentage of the community participation, the black leaders of Montgomery called a meeting to form the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), electing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as President. At this meeting they issued a formal list of demands in which the city later refused to comply. Their initial demands did not involve changing the segregation laws, but inserting more courtesy within the existing laws. For example, hiring black bus drivers and implementing a "first come, first serve" policy where whites would fill the front of the bus and blacks would fill the back.

Responding to the denial of the demands and to keep the boycott going, the MIA created a carpool system to support the community protesters. This boycott lasted for 381 days while leaders such as E.D. Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr. suffered turmoil like death threats to themselves and their families, as well as house bombings.

We remember these strong leaders that have encouraged us and put their life on the line to stand up for what they believed in, and more importantly what is right. After the long days of the bus boycott, the buses were officially desegregated on December 21st, 1956. But the fight always continues.

Blog 1 of a 3-part series. Check back next week for Part 2.

Merrisha Dickerson, Marketing Intern
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Merrisha is a student at Northern Kentucky University. Throughout Merrisha’s internship she has worked to create content for social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for the Freedom Center. She has enjoyed learning how to communicate with different types of people in different departments around the museum and learning something new each day.