Freedom Center refreshes modern-day slavery exhibit

Press Release

Freedom Center refreshes modern-day slavery exhibit

"Shine a Light" interactive exposes truths about human trafficking

CINCINNATI, OH (October 20, 2022) — Human trafficking is in films as a singular, unquestionably wicked act easily identified but far from the cities and neighborhoods of Ohio. But this modern-day slavery is much more subtle and much closer. Ohio ranks fourth in the nation in human trafficking cases, with over 300 cases reported. A new addition to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Invisible: Slavery Today gallery will help guests understand what human trafficking looks like in Ohio and provide resources to become involved in stopping it as modern-day abolitionists.

“Shine a Light” is a new interactive experience that invites guests to explore the space to reveal information about human trafficking in Ohio by literally shining a light on ordinary scenes. Pastoral streets with storefronts, bus stops and telephone poles belie the shockingly ordinary nature off human trafficking. However, shining a flashlight on the walls reveals information about a human trafficking victim – including where they’re from, when they were first trafficked and the circumstances in which they were trafficked – and triggers audio recordings of survivors describing their experiences. Additional reveals include statistics: the rate of human trafficking in Ohio is 3.84 victims per 100,000 residents; 97% of the criminal human trafficking cases on the federal level in Ohio are sex trafficking; the second most common form of labor trafficking in the US, after domestic work, is traveling sales crews. Definitions of forms of trafficking are also included.

“Human trafficking is a nefarious and dangerously misunderstood, underreported crime against humanity,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president and COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Education is a powerful weapon in this fight against modern-day slavery, for both victims and abolitionists. We hope our ‘Shine a Light’ experience will engage guests to learn more about human trafficking so they can be vigilant, identify cases when they see it and act to save lives and liberate survivors.”

Those who believe they are a victim of human trafficking or believe they know someone in danger can call the national human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733 anytime.

The “Shine a Light” experience is a powerful addition to the Invisible: Slavery Today exhibit. When the exhibit first opened in 2010, it was the world’s first permanent museum exhibit on the subjects of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The exhibit is designed to look and feel like a dingy warehouse in an unfamiliar city, filled with wood, metal and plastic containers – shipping cartons for human beings. Information on forms of modern-day slavery – including forced labor, bonded indenture, child slavery, sex trafficking and domestic servitude – and stories of survivors are incorporated into the exhibit’s elemental pieces. Statistics are tacked onto the trunk of a car, in place of a shipping container’s gross weight and stamped on wooden crates. In addition to exploring the causes of modern-day slavery, Invisible: Slavery Today also examines the response of governments, the justice system and the public the scourge.

The Freedom Center partners with End Slavery Now initiative to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery. End Slavery Now provides education, resources, contacts and ways for individuals to act to end modern-day slavery.


About the 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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