Memories at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
For today’s #MuseumWeek2020 hashtag #MuseumMomentsMW, I thought I’d share some of my favorite museum memories. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004. I came in October that year to volunteer for ONE weekend and am still here 15 years later!
As part of our Education team, I’ve spent many years interacting with groups of our children through school tours, outreach visits to classrooms and as a costumed interpreter. I enjoy thinking back on the impact we’ve made by teaching them about American history. The most rewarding part is to watch their faces light up at the stories we share, especially when they recognize names of people, places or things in the story. I love to hear them ask questions, chime in, and share what they have learned during our time together. I’m always moved by their profound statements like “Where did America go wrong?” or “Why did they treat people like that?” or “When I grow up, I want to…” They are a bright spot in what we do.
There are so many stories that I could share from my time with the museum. From the incredible staff trips we took to historical sites around the country (Charleston, SC; Richmond, VA; Memphis, TN; Atlanta, GA and Selma, AL just to name a few) to seeing or meeting the many famous celebrity guests who have visited over the years... First Lady Michelle Obama, Andrew Young, and Susan Taylor have all walked our halls. One of my favorite performers, Lionel Richie, came once and I was starstruck. We also had the chance to host Ms. Angelia Davis, Ms. Nikki Giovanni and MC Lyte. I’m blown away remembering all I’ve seen and the people I’ve met since joining the team in 2004.
But by far, the best memories I have come from the bonds built with an amazing group of coworkers, docents and volunteers who have all rallied around our common purpose. Each year has brought new faces, gifts, and laughs to our Freedom Center family. We’ve also shed a few tears sending off talented colleagues, interns, and volunteers to make their mark on the world. Saying goodbye is difficult, but each time we make sure they know they have been a valuable part of our story.