Voices - Programs


Monday, November 19, 2018 - 3:15pm

Thanksgiving Holiday Hours

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be closed on Thursday, November 22 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The museum will resume normal operating hours on Friday, November 23 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Through November 30, veterans will receive free general admission to the museum. Free admission will be granted by showing veteran identification at the visitor services desk in the main lobby of the museum. We thank you for your service.

Visitors can also experience Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu, sponsored by Thomas R. Schiff, John and Francie Pepper, Macy’s, and The John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust, PNC Bank, Trustee, through the month of November. The exhibition commemorates the life and legacy of former South African President Nelson Mandela through photographs by documentary photographer Matthew Willman as he revisited many of the locations that played an important role in South Africa’s route to racial equality and Mandela’s personal fight for freedom. Program offerings include community conversations, film screenings, and Mandela Fridays – where visitors can go on weekly guided tours with museum staff. Admission for Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu is $10 per person, $5 for members.

In addition to Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu, visitors can also immerse themselves in The Rosa Parks Experience – via a virtual reality headset – and explore the Open Your Mind: Understanding Implicit Bias Learning Lab. Whether you’re staying home or traveling, we at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center wish you a fun and safe holiday season. For more information about exhibits and programming at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, visit freedomcenter.org.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 6:02pm

Mandela Fridays: Exhibition Tour

Fridays at 1:00 p.m. through December 14, 2018
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Included in general & special exhibition admission.

Join National Underground Railroad Freedom Center staff and docents for a guided tour of MANDELA: THE JOURNEY TO UBUNTU for Mandela 100, a year of commemoration engagement lead by The Nelson Mandela Foundation, challenging and inspiring organizations and individuals around the world to, "be the legacy." MANDELA: THE JOURNEY TO UBUNTU commemorates the life and legacy of former South African President Nelson Mandela through photographs by Willman as he revisited many of the locations that played an important role in South Africa’s route to racial equality and Mandela’s personal fight for freedom. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 2:47pm

Oktoberfest Traffic Notices & Street Closures

Planning to visit this weekend? Please note that Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is held on 2nd and 3rd Streets, between Elm and Walnut. The museum is open and we look forward to welcoming you and festival goers to The Banks community for a weekend of activities for the whole family. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati road closures and traffic information can be found here: https://www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com/getting_here/hours-and-directions

This Saturday, September 22, we are opening out doors free of charge to all  Museum Day ticket holders on Saturday, September 22, 2018, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s 14th annual Museum Day, a national celebration of boundless curiosity in which participating museums emulate the free admission policy at the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington DC-based museums.

Museum Day tickets are available for download at Smithsonian.com/MuseumDay. Visitors who present a Museum Day ticket will gain free entrance for two at participating venues on September 22, 2018. One ticket is permitted per email address. A list of participating museums can be found at Smithsonian.com/MuseumDay/Search.

Emancipation Day: Our Future Is To Be Forever Free!

This Saturday we also join the statewide commemoration of President Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary emancipation proclamation to abolish slavery in 1862. Visitors can experience dramatic readings of the African American folktale The People Could Fly, participate in a conversation with the museum’s senior historian Carl Westmoreland, and join the screening of Civil War: The Untold Story.

12:00 p.m. Dramatic reading of The People Could Fly

1:00 p.m. A Conversation with Senior Historian, Carl Westmoreland

3:00 p.m. Civil War: The Untold Story film screening

Visitors to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center can also purchase tickets for MANDELA: THE JOURNEY TO UBUNTU and The Rosa Parks Experience. MANDELA: THE JOURNEY TO UBUNTU commemorates the life and legacy of former South African President Nelson Mandela through photographs by Matthew Willman as he revisited many of the locations that played an important role in South Africa’s route to racial equality and Mandela’s personal fight for freedom. Tickets are $10 per person. The Rosa Parks Experience is a virtual experience commemorating Parks’ historic demonstration, just four days before the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955. Tickets are $5 per person.

See you this weekend!

Friday, June 22, 2018 - 4:11pm

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Responds to Family Separation and Detention at the Border

At the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, we believe in inclusive freedom – all people, everywhere enjoying rights and privileges of equal number, equal quality, and equal kind. The recent images, audio, and news coverage of children being separated from their families at the border are infuriating and heartbreaking. Many are asking – how could this happen? This practice has been inflicted upon oppressed populations in the United States for much of our nation’s existence; the legacy of the separation of enslaved families, Native American families and Japanese-American Internment are woven into the tapestry of the American experience. Sadly, today, we are watching a global crisis. The separation, criminalization, and detention of brown migrant children demands our attention and our collective action.

Call your legislators. Join a Families Belong Together rally on June 30. Do not be complicit with your silence.

Friday, January 12, 2018 - 12:00pm

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This weekend through Monday, January 15, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will begin honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his many contributions through a series of programs and activities. We encourage you take part in celebrating with us as we’re sure to have something you’ll enjoy.

Gallery Talk: Have We Achieved MLK’s Dream will feature a discussion with Pastor K.Z. Smith of Corinthian Baptist Church on Saturday, January 13, at 1:30 p.m. The Gallery Talk Series provides visitors with the opportunity to engage with museum staff and community leaders to discuss social injustice, freedom and equality. The series is included in general admission and open to the public.

The 2018 King Legacy Awards Breakfast will be Monday, January 15, with doors opening at 7:30 a.m. and breakfast beginning at 8:00 a.m. The breakfast honors the participants of the King Legacy Youth Leadership Program. The King Legacy Youth Program provides leadership opportunities for graduates of the Freedom Center’s Youth Docent Program and scholarship funds upon completion of the program. The keynote speaker is The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati Artistic Director of Education and Outreach, Deondra Kamau Means.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will open to the public from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with free general admission to the museum’s permanent exhibitions and programming for the day. Special programming and initiatives will include the Hoxworth Cincinnati Blood Drive; Bead for Life bracelet sale in conjunction with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Modern Day Slavery initiatives; membership opportunities for the chance to win prizes, and a community concerts throughout the day beginning at 11:00 a.m.

We hope your participation in this annual day of service will inspire you to continue the ongoing fight in fulfilling Dr. King’s dream. #MyNURFC

Will Jones

Public Relation & Social Media Coordinator

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Friday, October 6, 2017 - 4:19pm

A Recap of Gallery Talk Series: Confederate Flag Heritage vs. Hate

“I know what that flag means,” said a visitor in the crowd at the second of our gallery talk series, The Confederate Flag: Heritage vs. Hate that occurred Saturday, September 30th, 2017.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with leading this gallery talk. Though I don’t refer to myself as a scholar of the Confederate flag, I have dedicated a majority of my master’s studies to the subject. In graduate school I took on the project of discussing the Confederate flag in public memory, turning it into my capstone thesis. Having given presentations over the debate about the Confederate flag before, I was confident in my knowledge of the subject. However, with the debate about Confederate imagery heating up in the media, I was unsure what type of reaction I would receive from this discussion.

Not only was the crowd on Saturday receptive to what I was saying, they were engaging and vocal on their experiences with the Confederate flag. This was crucial for me because above all else, I wanted to spark a meaningful dialogue with visitors about the flag. What I hoped to gain from this gallery talk was to help people understand why there is a debate about the Confederate flag and the many interpretations associated with this one symbol. What I walked away with was encouragement that regardless how tough the conversation may be, people are ready to have these discussions about current issues we are facing in America today.

Although it may be uncomfortable, I urge you to push yourself to have a dialogue with others about issues that you feel need to be discussed.

    Katie Bramell Researcher National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 3:56pm

The Idea Behind the Forgive/Fight Initiative


On July 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm, twenty-seven FORGIVE/FIGHT statements will be read aloud by the eternal flame on our third floor balcony. These statements have been collected over the course of the run of Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu. This is NURFC’s world premiere temporary exhibition showcasing the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela from his early childhood through his fight against apartheid, onto his presidency and beyond.

These statements have been collected from visitors as they exit the exhibit. Each of our visitors have been encouraged after viewing the exhibition to reflect on what they are willing to forgive in their life and what they are willing to fight for. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has had an overwhelming rate of participation in this exercise and we wanted a way to showcase the impact that Nelson Mandela’s life and actions have had on the Cincinnati community.  The idea of reading these important and poignant statements from the hearts of our visitors came from a program at another museum, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago.  The Hull-House Museum performed a mock election last fall for members of their community that were unable to vote in the national election due to legal status, age, past criminal history, etc.  The museum gave voice to their community on important issues that affected them where they otherwise would have had none.  Visitors were encouraged to take a statement left on these “ballots” and read them aloud on a bullhorn from a second story window out into the street.

The NURFC recognized very quickly after the opening of Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu that our own community had very powerful things to say about a range of issues affecting them and our world. We invite you to join us on July 18th , what would have been President Mandela’s ninety-ninth birthday as we borrow the Hull-House Museum’s concept  and we read aloud these statements of forgiveness and resistance. In the spirit of Mandela’s legacy we will read one statement for each of the twenty-seven years Mandela was held in bondage by the fascist government policies of Apartheid.

We sincerely hope you will join us on the afternoon of July 18 as we honor the legacy of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. His courageous actions changed the world. Listen with us as we hear the impact of his work on our visitors and learn what Cincinnatians want to forgive and what we as a community are ready to fight for.


 Jesse Kramer

Creative Director

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 3:39pm

A Conversation about Standing Rock

“The issues at Standing Rock are rooted in the genocide of their people that has been happening for hundreds of years.” –Rachel Ellison

For years, news about current events regarding the Native American community have often been swept under the rug. Hopefully by now you may have heard something about the tribes of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is wanting to use land near the reservation to build a $3.8 billion pipeline that would carry over 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois. 

Last month the National Underground Railroad hosted the Community Conversation: Standing Rock. Visitors learned about the DAPL and where the issues pertaining to it currently stand. Free and open to the public, this community conversation was organized by Northern Kentucky University graduate and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Intern Rachel Ellison. In addition to her studies, she is a photographer and an activist who decided to put the panel together after delivering supplies to the Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota last November.

“These are a peaceful people who are fighting for the basic human rights to clean water and sovereignty over their own land. They have been beaten, pepper-sprayed, chased by dogs, sprayed with water cannons, and shot with rubber bullets because of it,” she mentions. “This is why it is important that we do not turn a blind eye to this issue and why I brought this conversation to the Freedom Center.”

The conversation was moderated by Allison Warner, President of Kiksuya, an NKU student organization dedicated to service and outreach to Native American communities. Panelists included Albert Ortiz, Chairman of the American Indian Movement of Indiana and Kentucky and a member of the Kiowa and Yaqui tribes; Dr. Nicole Grant, PhD, Professor of Sociology at Northern Kentucky University and an expert on Indigenous issues; Dr. Joan Ferrante, PhD, Professor of Sociology at Northern Kentucky University and an expert on race relations; and Alan Seifert, a local Cincinnatian activist who recently traveled to Standing Rock to participate in the protests.

With over 50 guests in attendance, the two-hour conversation included a discussion of the poor conditions Naitve American communities face; the ongoing occurences with Native Americans and racism, and why the issue of the DAPL Pipeline is so important. "The camp was in constant ceremony and prayer and it was extremely peaceful," says Alan Seifert as he recounted participating in a march during his time at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in Standing Rock. After the introduction of the panelists, he began the evening telling the audience about his time spent in Dakota as he and Ellison delivered supplies to the Camp last November. Albert Ortiz gave vivid ordeals about what it is like for him living as a Native American, dealing with racism as he explained how just only three months ago he was told he wasn't allowed in a store because they "didn't have anything in there for him".  The story he told of his upbringing and the struggles Native American tribes face across the country silenced the room as there were many times guests became emotional. Dr Ferrante gave the audience handouts about the racial classification system in America and briefly talked about racial stereotypes as her discussion gave a logical element to the conversation. Finally, Dr. Grant offered insight as to why students from all cultures and backgrounds could benefit from working on reservations stating "There are levels of humility, respect, love and perserverance that the Natives maintained regardless of their situations." She mentioned that witnessing these acts can show students what it's like to be a community.

Guests were then allowed to ask questions following the discussion. Some though used their speaking time to inform the audience of tools and resources that could be used to keep awareness going with the DAPL pipeline and the Standing Rock Reseveration including websites, reading material and politicians to contact to express concern for the matter. Guests were also encouraged to continually reach out to local media to put pressure on those outlets to keep the issue on everyone's mind.

We thank everyone who came to the event. We especially want to thank our panelists and Rachel Ellison for her planning and coordinating of this Community Conversation. Be sure to check freedomcenter.org for updates regarding the DAPL Pipeline and other upcoming programs and events.       

Will Jones
Public Relations & Social Media Coordinator
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center 

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(Image by Rachel Ellison)

Saturday, October 15, 2016 - 12:00am

Race, Religion and Nation: From Black Power to Black Lives Matter

Methodist Theological School in Ohio will offer a timely and compelling graduate-level course, “Race, Religion and Nation: From Black Power to Black Lives Matter,” at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E. Freedom Way in Cincinnati.

Classes will be held Jan. 9-13, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enrollment is open to the public. Tuition and fees for non-degree-seeking students total $2,198. Non-credit auditing is offered for a fee of $200, with a reduced audit fee of $75 for those 60 and older. Space is limited. To enroll, contact Benjamin Hall at 800-333-6876 or bhall@mtso.edu.

The three-credit-hour course is offered through a cooperative relationship between MTSO and the Freedom Center, forged to promote justice and theologies of freedom. It will analyze the relationship between race, religion and nation through a historical exploration of the Black Lives Matter movement with attention to critical antecedents, including Black Power activism, hip hop music and culture, and the presidency of Barack Obama. MTSO instructor Tejai Beulah, a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. historical studies and an engaging teacher and activist, will lead the course.

“Race, Religion and Nation” is one of several January Term and Spring Semester MTSO courses that provide opportunities for meaningful continuing graduate education. Details on those courses are available at www.mtso.edu/learnmore.

Friday, October 7, 2016 - 10:46am

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Special Hours This Saturday, October 8

FotoFocus has returned to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in a stunning three- part installation in the Skirball Gallery, as part of FotoFocus's Biennial -- Photography, the Undocument. This Saturday, October 8, the museum will close to the public at 3:00p.m. for the opening reception and program with one of the artists featured in the exhibition, South African artist Zanele Muholi, who refers to her work as "visual activism." If you haven't purchased your FotoFocus Passport, you can do so here. The program is free to Passport holders. 

About the Biennial
The FotoFocus Biennial is a regional, month-long celebration of photography and lens-based art held throughout Cincinnati and the surrounding region. Featuring over 60 participating museums, galleries, academic institutions, and community organizations, the 2016 Biennial will include original FotoFocus curated exhibitions and four days of events and programming, including screenings, lectures, and performances.



OCTOBER 1, 2016 - JANUARY 23, 2017

OCTOBER 1, 2016 - JANUARY 23, 2017

OCTOBER 1, 2016 - JANUARY 23, 2017

Demetrius Williams, Marketing and Communications Intern

Images: Zanele Muholi

Related Content: FotoFocus, Solitary Confinement Cell Experience.

More authored by Demetrius: Introducing Demetrius Williams, Marketing Intern