Statement on the attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Press Release
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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Statement on the attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

“The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is alarmed by the rise in violent attacks on the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, including last evening’s shootings in Georgia. Our hearts are with the victims of these attacks and with the entire Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. We strongly condemn these acts of hate and implore our nation to stand up and speak out against these and all acts of prejudice.

Sadly, racism and violence toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is nothing new. It is one of our nation’s dark legacies dating back centuries. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been the victims of bigoted legislation and internment camps – at the same time we were condemning their use by the villainous Nazis in Europe. We shed blood across continents in a righteous effort to stamp out white supremacy in Europe but we, as a nation, have yet to commit ourselves to waging that same fight at home.

The irony is the American myth has glamorized our country as a melting pot, built by immigrants and made vibrant by the diversity of cultures that make up our national identity. While that vibrancy is indeed the product of the beautiful diversity imbued in the word “American,” it has not and is not a story of harmony. People of African, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Latino and indigenous descent are identified as Americans, but that hyphen that marries their ancestral homes and their modern homes has too long stripped them of the rights, security and dignity afforded to white Americans.

We do not call for homogenization or to strip ourselves of our racial and ethnic identities. Rather we demand respect, dignity and humanity from each other. We implore every American to demand for each other the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness our nation was founded upon. We challenge each other to be curious, to be open and to understand our differences so that we can enjoy the vibrancy that can occur when you see all colors. Above all, we demand compassion and empathy for our fellow humans.”

Woodrow Keown, Jr.

President & COO
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

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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 freedomcenter.org, 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, endslaverynow.org
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