National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Extends 2019 Freedom 55: Oratorical Contest Application Deadline

Press Release

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


National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Extends
2019 Freedom 55: Oratorical Contest Application Deadline
Students have through June 3 to submit applications for scholarship opportunities

CINCINNATI, OH (May 14, 2019) – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has extended the deadline to accept entries through Monday, June 3, for the Freedom 55: Oratorical Contest – an academic speaking challenge that seeks to teach important leadership qualities, the ability to think and speak clearly, the history of our nation, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of citizenship.

Students will have a prepared oration that will speak about some aspect of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project while also including social justice and activism. The contestants are given a limited time for the orations. High school students graduating in 2020 under age 20 are eligible. The first place contest winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship; second place $500, and third place $250. The scholarships can be used at any college or university in the United States.

“As the young orators are learning about Freedom Summer they are also leading the charge to spread awareness about this part of history in America to their generation,” says Jacqueline Dace, deputy director at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “The Freedom 55 Oratorical Contest will equip the orators with the tools and skills that they need to succeed and help inspire their peers to become future freedom fighters.”

“The Freedom 55: Oratorical contest gives young scholars the opportunity to grow their leadership and gain knowledge about the history of our nation,” says Dion Brown, president and chief operating officer at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “This experience not only prepares them for the challenges they will encounter later in life, but it will prepare them with the courage and confidence they need when fighting for their ideas and beliefs against the status quo.”

Freedom 55: Oratorical Contest is part of the Freedom 55 Programming Series 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.

Visit for more information and application form.


About National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery,
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