Freedom Center Voices

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 11:31am

Introducing Demetrius Williams, Marketing Intern

Hello everyone! My name is Demetrius Williams and I am the new Marketing & Communications Intern for the Fall of 2016. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where I attended Hughes Center High School. Now, I am a student at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College pursuing my Associates Degree in Audio/Video Production. Once accomplished, I would like to attend Northern Kentucky University and obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Communications.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a place of knowledge, inspiration and peace. I wanted to Intern at here because I have a desire to learn more about history and our freedom heroes. On the technical side of things, I also want to know the procedures that are needed for interacting with the media and marketing promotion. I would like to thank everyone at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for welcoming me aboard and making me feel a part of the team.

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 12:07pm

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati 2016 & Parking

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, produced by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and presented by Sam Adams, will celebrate its 40th anniversary, September 16-18 at a bigger, better site on Second and Third Streets, between Elm and Walnut Streets, downtown. 

If you are visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center this weekend (Friday, September 16 - Saturday, September 17), we recommend using the directions included on the GetToOktoberfest webpage to find parking. We have included a map of the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati festival below.

As with any festival, there will be street closures. The following streets will close at 9AM on Friday, September 16 and remain closed until Monday, September 19 at 5AM.

  • Second Street- all exits leading to Second Street from NB75, SB75, EB50 and the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge will be closed.  (Exits from EB50 and the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge will close at 8AM) Second Street will remain closed west of Walnut Street
  • Third Street- closed between Walnut Street and Elm Street
  • Vine Street/Rosa Parks Street- closed between Fourth Street and Freedom Way (Local parking access maintained between Fourth Street and Third Street and between Freedom Way and Second Street
  • Race Street- closed between Fourth Street and Freedom Way (Local parking access maintained between Fourth Street and Third Street and between Freedom Way and Second Street
  • Elm Street- temporarily converted to 2-way traffic between Fourth Street and Second Street which will provide southbound access from Fourth Street to Mehring Way

For a list of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati events & activities, visit http://www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.

Please note: The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is not open on Sunday, September 18. Our regular operating hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11AM- 5PM.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016 - 12:50pm

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Open During Streetcar Weekend, Sunday, Sept. 11

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be open to the public this Sunday, September 11 during the opening weekend of the Cincinnati Bell Connector (aka the Cincinnati Streetcar), offering the public more opportunities to visit throughout the weekend-long schedule of festivities at The Banks and around the city. The museum’s regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. That same weekend, streetcar riders who visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will receive special admission rates—buy one ticket, get one free of equal or lesser value. 

The additional hours will provide families with more opportunities to engage in historical programming, tour permanent exhibitions and experience our new special exhibitions, King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll and the Solitary Confinement Cell Experience, both open now through September 30.

King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll is funded and developed by the Community Building Institute and ArtsWave and part of Cincinnati’s citywide King Records Month celebration. The exhibit is the first installment of a three-part series that will explore King Records’ thirty years as a record company. The Religious Campaign Against Torture’s (NRCAT) Solitary Confinement Cell Experience, presented in partnership with the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, is a part of NRCAT’s nationwide interfaith campaign to expose and end the torture of solitary confinement in prisons, jails and detention centers across the U.S. 

In addition to special exhibitions, visitors can take part in the King Records Roundtable, where historians Randy McNutt, Darren Blasé, Dr. Chris Anderson and King drummer Philip Paul discuss King Records’ first ten years as a company and how the Great Migration impacted their colorblind hiring process in the 1940s. Want the latest on upcoming special exhibitions, events and programs?  Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter and on Facebook, for more historical posts and images. 

Assia Micheaux Johnson, Public Relations & Social Media Coordinator 

Images: Solitary Confinement Cell Experience, Steve Halper/New York Times.

Related Content: King Records: The Lost History of Rock & RollSolitary Confinement Cell Experience.

More authored by Assia: Here's Why We Should Not Boycott Roots, Freedom Center Open This Memorial Day, May 30,Freedom Center Open Sundays in SummerGift Shop Sale: Mother's Day Gift Ideas and More!, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Announces New CuratorReveal Stories: The 18 Black American Athletes of the 1936 Olympic Games International Human Rights Day: Cincinnati Honors Legacy of Helen Suzman150th Anniversary of the 13th Amendment: President Obama Gives Presidential ProclamationFlame Friday: Artist James PateFreedom Center to Host Award-winning Author and Yale University Alumni Jeff Hobbs ThursdayKing Records now a Cincinnati landmarkOn This Day in History: The Preliminary Emancipation ProclamationConnect with History Labor Day Weekend50 Years Later: The Voting Rights Act of 1965,  50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 11:50am

In Memoriam of Jerry Gore

Jerry  Gore, a retired  faculty member of  Morehead  State  University and a  lifelong resident  of  Maysville, KY, passed away August  3, 2016, after losing a battle with pneumonia.

Mr.  Gore was a respected  local  historian  who developed  a national  reputation focusing  on the history  of  enslavement and abolition in  the  Maysville Kentucky  Metropolitan Region .

Mr.  Gore was a descendant of Addison White. White fled  enslavement  from  Flemingsburg, Kentucky, only  to  be  discovered  working  on  the  farm  of  Udney Hay Hyde in  Mechanicsburg, OH, more  than  100 miles  North  East of  Flemingsburg . After  a  confrontation  with  slave  catchers  who wanted to  take  Mr. White  back  to  Kentucky, Mr.  White  was  able  to  shoot  his  way  out  of  almost  certain capture.  At least ten White citizens of Mechanicsburg fought a posse that included U.S.  Marshalls, when they  returned  to  Mechanicsburg  the Marshalls were met with  pitchforks and  anything  else the people  could  get  their  hands  on in  an  effort  to  prevent  the  citizens  who assisted  Mr. White’s escape from being arrested. The  running  battle  covered  at  least  three counties, and  several  of the  men  involved  in the  fray  faced  a hearing  in a Federal  Court in Cincinnati, where they were accused  of interfering with  U.S.  Marshalls under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act.

In  July 1857, in  the  US  District  Court  room  of  Judge  Humphery  H.  Levit, a  compromise was reached,  as  the result  of the  men  from  Mechanicsburg, OH agreeing  to  pay  Daniel  White of  Flemingsburg  Ky.  $1,000.00 for Mr. White’s freedom.

Addison  White went to Canada  and  started  a  new  life, however, with the advent of the  Civil  War, he  returned  to America  in  1864 and joined  Company E. of the  Massachusetts 54th US  Colored  Troops.  At  the end  of the  Civil War, Addison  White  returned to  Mechanicsburg, OH where  he found  a permanent job  with  the  village  in  the  street department. Mr.  White lived  the  balance  of  his  life  in  peace  in  Mechanicsburg, where he and  his  wife,  Amanda, are now buried  in Maple  Grove  Cemetery. In  2005,  Mechanicsburg and  the  Ohio State  Historical Office erected a plaque commemorating  his legacy—a man who  fought to be  free  and, in  turn,  fought  to  help  free  those  who  were  still  enslaved. Jerry Gore was  in  the  audience  during  that ceremony, where he acknowledged his family’s  history. Now, both their spirits are free.

Carl B. Westmoreland, senior historian and preservationist  

Sunday, July 31, 2016 - 12:00am

Islamophobia – not in our Community!

Thank you, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, for making the Islamophobia – not in our Community! brochure accessible to the public.  Not since the aftermath of “9/11” have American Muslims as a group faced such unwarranted suspicion and outright bigotry as they have this past year.  They are concerned, and rightly so, for their civil rights and for the safety and well-being of their families.  We, too, should be concerned.  This is not a time for us to sit by and watch our fellow Americans, our Cincinnati neighbors, being scapegoated and maligned as Muslims have been of late.  We need to confront ignorant, prejudiced and hateful rhetoric, wherever it occurs.  

We need to help educate the uninformed and inexperienced.  And, we must insist on honesty, fairness and social responsibility in our public discourse.  For, as history has taught us and the Freedom Center teaches us every day, bigotry in any form, anywhere, when unchallenged, can and will spread like a cancer to more and more victim groups until it reaches a point when no group is left un-implicated and unharmed.   Read this valuable brochure, learn from it, use it, and share it widely.  Then take the initiative to get to know your Muslim neighbors.  You, and they, will be glad you did!

Robert “Chip” Harrod, chief executive officer of BRIDGES                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - 8:53am

Civil Rights Icon Vernon Jordan Returns to Cincinnati

Civil Rights leader and former National Underground Railroad Freedom Center advisory board member Vernon Jordan will be returning to Cincinnati this summer for the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Convention. Jordan is scheduled to be the keynote speaker July 16 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Jordan, now 80, previously served as an advisor to President Bill Clinton.

Vernon Jordan played a big role in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, working with the NAACP in organizing boycotts and expanding membership.  Before long, Jordan’s extraordinary work was noticed and he became director of the Southern Regionals Council’s Education project in 1964, a project that increased the number black voters in the South. In 1971, Jordan became president of the National Urban League.

Harvard University professor and historian of African-American life, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. claims that no one has played a more pivotal role in furthering civil rights in the last half century than Jordan.  Jordan is also a businessman, and at one time served on 10 major corporate boards simultaneously. He holds more than 60 honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the United States. In an interview with Bloomberg, American Express CEO Ken Chenault said that Jordan’s “been able to transform society, go into business, and transform business”   Jordan recalled his emotions during the election of the first African American president, noting that he cried when President Obama was sworn in 2008, "It dawned on me the tears were not my tears. They were the tears of my parents and grandparents. They were the tears of black people that toted cotton and lifted that bale. They were the tears of incredulous belief that a black man had been elected president of the United States.”

The 13-member Ohio Legislative Black Caucus will hold its convention July 15-17 ahead of the NAACP’s national convention downtown.  It will be the first time the convention will be held in Cincinnati since it was founded in 1967.

Trey Melcher

Marketing & Communications intern

Related Content: The Emancipation ProclamationThe Thirteenth Amendment.

Images: Zimbio.com, Depauw.edu

Friday, July 8, 2016 - 12:02pm

Clarence G. Newsome, president, Asks Nation to Come Together in the Midst of This Week’s Violence

Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, calls the nation to come together after three horrific shootings that have deeply affected communities across the country.  

 “The horrible events that our country has witnessed over the past three days in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas have shocked America’s soul.  Our body politic is in need of deep, deep healing.  No free republic can long endure without maturing to the point where all of its citizens live the reality of what freedom requires of us individually.  It requires that each of us live out a shared understanding of what personal freedom means.  Personal freedom is the power to relate and interact with others in ways that safeguard, sustain and enhance life to the optimal degree.  A young nation must grow to see that freedom has no practical meaning for someone living an isolated existence on a deserted island.  It only has meaning to the degree that we relate to one another respectfully, responsibly and accountably.  Regardless of our private or professional roles, the capacity to be self-disciplining and self- governing is the key to personal freedom.  It is also the key to a peaceful and prosperous free society. Just four days ago America celebrated its precious gift of freedom.  It will be in the way that we exercise personal freedom that we will have reason to celebrate in the years ahead.  On this the day following three horrible days in our national life, I am appealing to the heart, mind and spirit of each American to demonstrate to each other and to the world the best of ourselves as a free people.  This day, and the days to come, we the people should commit to nothing less.” – Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

Friday, June 24, 2016 - 3:07pm

Supporting the LGBTQ Community After Pulse

It has been nearly two weeks since the attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando and I have had a very difficult time putting into words exactly how this horrible atrocity has me feeling. Beyond the seething rage that defies description, there is something else.

I don’t feel safe. As Americans, we all feel this to some degree after the latest mass shooting in our country (how disgusting that I can say the words “latest mass shooting” to begin with). But let me be clear about one thing: I have not felt safe since having the realization at an early age that I was different and that my being different could mean violence against me was possible at any moment. 

Before I go on, I would say to my young self in this moment to look to hope and love. I was told something I needed to hear this week and it would have helped me years ago. Darkness owns the sky but we always look to the stars. I would tell him not to be ruled by fear and that the very act of existing in his own skin and being who he is, is an act of quiet revolution. His existence can change the world for another like him in the future and make their path a little easier. It is okay to be afraid, as I am now, this will pass. I absolutely refuse to be ruled by fear.

Waking up that morning and being reminded that there are people in the world who would like to see me meet a similar end was terrifying. The LGBTQ community is incredibly vulnerable here in the United States and even more so abroad.  Disproportionately at risk are people of color and those who identify as transgender. These members of our LGBTQ family often bear the brunt of this violence.


I heard many people over the past week say things like, “this was a club that welcomed everyone,” or “this didn’t directly affect you.” This is erasure. The truth is, this was a gay club. It directly impacts every single LGBTQ person on this planet. Any time an act of violence is committed against us, because of who we are and who we love, it directly effects our sense of safety.


Gay men and those suspected of being gay in Syria, are being hurled from multi-story buildings by ISIS extremists. Here in the U.S. trans students are now at risk of attack from their fellow classmates, (with the administration’s permission) for using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. In Uganda anti-gay laws have incited an increase in violence against us. In Jamaica, LGBTQ people face mob attacks, stabbings, death threats and, in some cases, murder. Throughout the world lesbians are subjected to corrective rape. In Russia LGBTQ pride parades are met with violence and anti-gay groups who place false dating profiles in an effort to kidnap and torture those who respond. All of this is recorded and uploaded to the Internet as a warning to the LGBTQ people of the world. These are just a few examples of the violence that our community faces every day. 



We must press on and, whatever we do, we must not allow this most recent attack to drive a wedge between us, and our similarly marginalized brothers and sisters in the Islamic community. I entreat my LGBTQ family, and anyone reading this post, to not respond to hate with hate and to not judge an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. We are better than that. We live in a climate of fear. We are tired. We are angry. Despite all of this - we must remain strong.

The LGBTQ members of your community are suffering and they need you now more than ever. When you hear a slur, a joke, a derogatory comment, or anti-gay rhetoric, know that it directly contributes to a culture that has allowed this violence against us. To do nothing is to be complicit.

We all have a direct responsibility as human beings to help end hate. It is up to all of us to stand up and speak up. I refuse to sit quietly any longer. I hope you’ll join me.


Jesse Kramer, Art Director

Images: NYDaily News, WSBV-Atlanta

Related Content: The Emancipation ProclamationThe Thirteenth Amendment.


Friday, June 3, 2016 - 2:32pm

Here's Why We Should Not Boycott Roots

By now you may have read Snoop’s comments about the reboot of Roots and his call to boycott the series. His comments, which he delivered this week via Instagram—from his account that boasts a following of 10. 5 million users—has already driven numerous responses, including comments from the producers of the series reboot, Roland Martin & Levar Burton, the latter of whom played Kunta Kinte in the original 1977 miniseries. But Roots is much more than a story about slavery, it’s a story about the black experience in America.


So, here's why we should NOT boycott Roots.


1. History

It's important. In the 150 plus years since the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment, the latter of which abolished institutionalized slavery in America, never before have we been more equipped to tell the story of the people that endured the system and the subsequent atrocities that followed its end, by the descendants of those who endured it. Prior to the miniseries, stories about slavery and the Civil War in mainstream culture and media— print, film and music— were predominately told by Southern sympathizers, like D.W. Griffith and Margaret Mitchell, who romanticized the period and further perpetuated derogatory stereotypes of black people, diminishing them to caricatures. Roots was the first time that America’s dark history –from slavery to the contemporary issues of the day—was told from the black perspective, with strong, unapologetic characters like Kunta Kinte, to a prime-time audience.



2. A Brief History of the Black Image in Media

Roots was revolutionary—not in subject matter alone, but in presentation and representation.  The original Roots aired a little more than a decade after the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1965.  In an address at the National Broadcast Editorial Conference of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in July of 1964, the then president of CBS, Frank Stanton, called upon broadcasters to launch a "mighty and continuing editorial crusade" in support of civil rights. Albeit the call was initially was made to focus on blacks as the subjects of documentaries in alignment with Lyndon B. Johnson’s vision of the “Great Society,” the shows produced during this time period—The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show, Julia, Star Trek and The Mod Squad, to name a few—placed black actors in leading and supporting roles, introducing mainstream America to black culture and issues.

Prior to this shift, films starring black actors made by black filmmakers – Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams and James and Eloyce Gist—in order to contradict negative stereotypes, were suppressed by major studios, especially to Southern audiences. Films produced during the Golden Age of Hollywood that featured or starred black actors, such as Gone with the Wind, Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather, Imitation of Life and Pinky, were few and far between and mostly catered to white audiences, perpetuating archetypical “black” characters. The shift that Stanton called for in 1964 had already begun playing out in Hollywood with the arrival of Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Ruby Dee, Ozzie Davis and more, many of whom made the leap from theater to the silver screen. But, for all the progress made in front of the camera, there was still progress to be made behind the camera. The original Roots screenplay and series directors included Alex Haley and Gilbert Moses, co-founder of the Free Southern Theater Company whose establishment was part of the Black Theater Movement, in alignment with the Civil Rights Movement. Having black writers produce work for mainstream consumption was still considered a risky investment.




3. Something that "happened 200 years ago" ABSOLUTELY relates to contemporary issues.

When Roots aired in January of 1977, the nation was still recovering from the Vietnam War, civil unrest and economic crisis. The manufacturing jobs that drew southern black families north during the Great Migration began to dwindle in the mid-60s and were being outsourced to other countries where the cost of labor was cheaper.  But the burden of a national trend affecting cities across the country was disproportionately suffered by black and brown, working class families, as white families began moving out of cities (see white flight) to avoid the desegregation of schools and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968—the Fair Housing Act—which prohibited housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. What does slavery have to do with this? Systemic Racism—Jim Crow, employment and housing discrimination, incarceration, the school- to prison pipeline, the wealth gap, the war on drugs and infant mortality all stem from the systematic stripping of constitutional rights established during the Reconstruction Era (1865-1877).  Roots is a saga—and it begins with slavery because that’s where the story of blacks in America begins.


4. Should we watch Soul Plane instead or nah?

You're right about one thing—we need more black stories in mainstream media. Stories and images that showcase who we are culturally and celebrates our diversity, because we are not a monolith.  Please!—make movies and media that tell multiple stories of a rich culture and diverse people. In the last decade, television has seen a resurgence of black characters in leading roles in the coveted prime time television spot. The rise of social media and streaming services has also provided previously unknown black actors, writers and producers— like Issa Rae— with a powerful platform in which our stories can be seen and consumed by the masses, jettisoning black actors and black stories back into traditional media outlets. Shows like Martin, Living Single, Girlfriends, A Different World and many more, have reintroduced the contemporary black experience to new audiences and a new generation of viewers. What’s more is that the characters are three dimensional, beautifully nuanced roles written, produced and directed by people of color. The creation of these complex roles provide more to mainstream media consumption than bland, unrealistic,  stock "black" characters, previously written by writers who knew nothing of what it is like to be black in contemporary America.


So yes, Snoop, I will be watching—well, streaming—because in a time where states are violating voting rights and where activists have to remind society that Black Lives Matter, it is extremely important that we go back to our roots.


Assia Micheaux Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Images: Roots (2016) Via History Channel, Still from Stormy Weather  via MGM and allposters.com

Related Content: The Emancipation ProclamationThe Thirteenth Amendment.

More authored by Assia: Freedom Center Open This Memorial Day, May 30, Freedom Center Open Sundays in Summer, Gift Shop Sale: Mother's Day Gift Ideas and More!, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Announces New CuratorReveal Stories: The 18 Black American Athletes of the 1936 Olympic Games International Human Rights Day: Cincinnati Honors Legacy of Helen Suzman150th Anniversary of the 13th Amendment: President Obama Gives Presidential ProclamationFlame Friday: Artist James PateFreedom Center to Host Award-winning Author and Yale University Alumni Jeff Hobbs ThursdayKing Records now a Cincinnati landmarkOn This Day in History: The Preliminary Emancipation ProclamationConnect with History Labor Day Weekend50 Years Later: The Voting Rights Act of 1965,  50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 4:44pm

Freedom Center Gift Shop Sale


The Gift Shop at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is full of great gift ideas for your entire family—with a variety of books, apparel, souvenirs, art, beautifully and locally hand-crafted jewelry, toys, housewares and more!  Now is the perfect time to purchase an inspired gift during our store-wide 75% off sale, where Freedom Center members get an additional 20% off their purchase! Click here to become a member today.