Voices - Historical Perspective

Historical Perspective

Thursday, December 10, 2015 - 12:00am

International Human Rights Day: Cincinnati Honors Legacy of Helen Suzman

In honor of International Human Rights Day, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati will host a panel discussion with local women who have played meaningful roles in human rights advocacy today, Thursday, December 10, at 7:00 p.m.

Tonight’s discussion is named in honor of another great freedom fighter and advocate for human rights, Helen Suzman—a Jewish South African anti-apartheid activist and parliamentarian whose public criticism and opposition to the governing National Party’s apartheid policies made her an outsider and target. Suzman continued to speak out against the horrors of apartheid despite continued threats and harassment during her 36 years in parliament (1953-89), working with Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned on efforts that would aid in garnering support for the victims of apartheid.   

The panel will be moderated by Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp, rabbi and spiritual leader of Tempe Sholom in Amberley Village. Panelists include: Iris Roley, a freedom advocate for 13 years who designed and monitored Cincinnati Police Department reform as project manager for the Cincinnati Black United Front, Jennifer L. Branch, partner in Gerhardstein & Branch, the firm that won the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, which held that the 14th amendment requires States to license and recognize same-sex marriages,  Dr. Catherine Roma, founder of several choirs including MUSE, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, who has commissioned musical works across the barriers of race, class, sexual orientation, age, and imprisonment and  Marian Spencer, civil rights icon in the Cincinnati community who led the effort to desegregate Coney Island, headed the NAACP, served on Cincinnati Council and was at the forefront of numerous civil rights gains of the past half-century. Click here to RSVP for the evening’s event. Click here to learn more about HUC-JIR’s special exhibit, Helen Suzman: Fighter for Human Rights, on view through January 24.

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 Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Images: Helen Suzman.

Related Content: Kin Killin’ Kin.

More authored by Assia: 150th Anniversary of the 13th Amendment: President Obama Gives Presidential Proclamation, Flame Friday: Artist James Pate, Freedom 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, November 24, 2015 - 12:00am

Freedom Center to Host Pulitzer Prize–Winning Historian Eric Foner Next Week

Next Tuesday, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will host Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University Eric Foner December 1 at 6 p.m., where he will discuss his latest work, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad. Foner’s lecture is the second lecture in the John and Francie Pepper Freedom Lecture Series—a series connecting the public with award-winning authors, historians and thought-leaders, discussing themes on history, race, culture and modern abolition.

Building on fresh evidence, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad elevates the Underground Railroad from folklore to sweeping history. Foner’s work is inspiring―full of memorable characters making their first appearance on the historical stage―and significant―the controversy over fugitive slaves inflamed the sectional crisis of the 1850s. It eventually took a civil war to destroy American slavery, but here at last is the story of the courageous effort to fight slavery by "practical abolition," person by person, family by family

Dr. Battle, executive vice president and provost of the NURFC commented on Foner’s visit to the Freedom Center and the Queen City, “Eric Foner is inarguably one of our nation’s most prominent historians. We encourage the community to join us for what promises to be an evening of insight on a topic where the line between fact and folklore are often blurred—the Underground Railroad.”


In addition to Eric Foner’s lecture on December 1, the public will have the opportunity to hear from Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Trinity College, Christopher Hagar January 13, 2016 and novelist and essayist, Marilynne Robinson on March 16, 2016. The lecture is open to the public and tickets can be purchased here in advance or at the door.
 

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 Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Images:Cover image of Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad  and historian Eric Foner.

Related Content: John and Francie Pepper Freedom Lecture Series: Marilynne Robinson, Kin Killin’ Kin.

More authored by Assia: Flame Friday: Artist James Pate, Freedom 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

Friday, November 13, 2015 - 12:00am

Flame Friday: Artist James Pate

Happy Flame Friday! This week, we’re featuring local artist and Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts alumni James Pate. His series Kin Killin’ Kin, opening tomorrow at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, is a striking visual experience exploring youth violence in inner city communities.  

“I was moved to use art as a means of illustrating this tragedy; complete with black brothers in pointed hoods creating acts of violence in the ‘hood,’" said James of his series. "Every piece that I complete is a way of accepting some of the responsibility for these acts of violence. Every piece is a moment of silence and dedication to the people who have had to deal personally with our losses.” 

Pate’s self-described “Techo-Cubist” style uses charcoal coupled with techniques of illusion, shadow, juxtaposition, shape and perspectives. The concept of visually comparing modern day youth violence to Ku Klux Klan terrorism was sparked from ongoing conversations within the Black community, calling out the similarities between gang violence and the terrorism inflicted by the Ku Klux Klan. By combining the iconography of the Ku Klux Klan, the Civil Rights Movement and all too familiar images of gang violence, Pate places the viewer inside the acts and the conversation, demanding their attention and reflection on the challenges, causes and insidious nature of violence.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center vice president and provost Dr. Battle is looking forward to the response from the community, “We welcome the community to join us in constructive dialogue about youth violence-- a subject that is affecting communities across the nation. It is our responsibility as a national museum of conscious to present difficult stories that must be told in order to inspire action that will lead to positive change here in Cincinnati and across the country.”

The opening program for Kin Killin’ Kin  will take place this Saturday, November 14 at 11:00 a.m. in the Everyday Freedom Heroes Gallery and will feature remarks from NURFC president Dr. C.G. Newsome; James Pilcher, Cincinnati Enquirer; Anthony Stringer, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio; and Artist James Pate.  The exhibit is included with museum admission and is curated by Willis Bing Davis Shango: Center for the Study of African American Art & Culture.

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 Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Images: Artist James Pate in gallery at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

Related Content: Kin Killin’ KinPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia: Freedom 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

Friday, October 16, 2015 - 12:00am

Ohio Civil Rights Commission Honors Ohioans Who Furthered Civil and Human Rights

This week, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center staff attended the seventh annual Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. The Hall of Fame was created by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, in order to “acknowledge the citizens who have left their mark in the State of Ohio through their tireless efforts in furthering civil and human rights in their communities.”

This year’s inductees included founder of the Columbus Urban League, Nimrod B. Allen, founding member of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, Nirmal K. Sinha, Cincinnati philanthropists Schuyler and Merri Gaither Smith and member of the US House of Representatives, Louis Stokes. Attendees from across the state gathered as their peers in civil rights received recognition for their great service, including fellow Hall of Famers, Judge Nathaniel Jones and Dr. Marian Spencer.

Dr. Sean Decatur, 19th president of Kenyon college and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of Oberlin College, served as keynote speaker, where he thanked “those that opened the door” for him and continued to inspire greatness in others through their legacies. Decatur emphasized his responsibility as an educator and the duties of an educated society by recalling a passage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, The Three Dimensions Of A Complete Life, in which King stressed that length, breadth and height are equal components of a complete life:

“And there are three dimensions of any complete life to which we can fitly give the words of this text: length, breadth, and height.  Now the length of life as we shall use it here is the inward concern for one’s own welfare. In other words, it is that inward concern that causes one to push forward, to achieve his goals and ambitions. The breadth of life as we shall use it here is the outward concern for the welfare of others. And the height of life is the upward reach for God. Now you got to have all three of these to have a complete life… When you get all three of these working together, you will do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

Click here to read King’s full speech. Read the full list of Hall of Fame inductees here. 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 Johnson

Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

 

Images: Dr. Sean Decatur addressing a captive audience at the Ohio Statehouse and Schuyler and Merri Gaither Smith with Civil Rights Commission chair Leonard Hubert.

 

Related Content: Kin Killin’ KinPower of the Vote.

 

More authored by Assia:Freedom Center to Host Award-winning Author and Yale University Alumni Jeff Hobbs ThursdayKing Records now a Cincinnati landmark, On 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

Monday, October 12, 2015 - 4:53pm

King Records now a Cincinnati landmark

Last week, the unofficial national musical treasure, King Records, was named a historic landmark of the City of Cincinnati. The now legendary music recording complex, located on Brewster Ave. in the Evanston neighborhood, was one of the most influential recording labels of the 1940s and 1950s and would become the nation’s sixth largest record company. 

King Records was founded by Syd Nathan in 1943 and specialized in country music, advertising itself as “hillbilly music.” The company soon branched out into “race records” on a separate label aptly named Queen Records, which greatly outpaced sales of the main label. Within two years, Queen Records was absorbed into the main label, where the new King Records would go on to boast a diverse catalog of artists in multiple genres including, James Brown, Bootsy Collins, Ike Turner, Hank Ballard, Otis Redding, John Lee Hooker and Lavern Baker.

This November, Cincinnati voters will have the opportunity to vote on a parks levy that will help restore and preserve many parks and public sites, including King Records. During the council meeting, Councilman Wendell Young fondly recalled growing up in Cincinnati with King records, “Very often as a kid, I saw many of these artists and I took them for granted,” Young said. “If you live around it, you don’t often appreciate it until something drastic happens.”

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 M. Johnson
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

 

Image: Steve Halper/New York Times.

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia: On 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, September 22, 2015 - 12:00am

On This Day in History: The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

On this day in 1862, the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln, stating that “if the rebels did not end the fighting and rejoin the Union by January 1, 1863, all slaves in the rebellious states would be free.”  The Confederate Army did not concede and three months later, on the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

The Beginning of Social Justice, Cynthia H. Catlin from And Still We Rise.

When the Civil War began in 1861, President Lincoln sought to preserve the Union rather than end the system of enslavement. Lincoln knew that neither the Union nor the Border States would support abolition as a final outcome, however, by mid-1862, the President was convinced that abolition was the correct military and moral strategy. To solve this dilemma, in early 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was issued but it only freed enslaved persons in states that had already seceded from the Union. At the time, it was thought of as an effective war measure that would cripple the Confederacy, which had used enslaved laborers to support the Confederate Army. However, the Emancipation also set the stage for conversations on the future of human bondage in the United States and would dramatically alter the lives of African Americans once the Civil War ended.

This week, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center president Dr. C.G. Newsome and associate professor of history at Northern Kentucky University Dr. Eric Jackson discussed the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and the Emancipation Proclamation on WVXU’s Cincinnati Edition, highlighting both documents’ place next to America’s founding documents. You can listen to the full episode here.  The Emancipation Proclamation is on display now through August 2016, click here to plan your visit.

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 Johnson
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

 

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia:  Connect with History Labor Day Weekend, 50 Years Later: The Voting Rights Act of 1965,  50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

 

Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 3:22pm

Connect with History Labor Day Weekend: September 6 is the Final Sunday of Seasonal Hours!

The summer is winding down and schools around the region are already back in session, which means that Labor Day Weekend is the last opportunity to take advantage of seasonal Sunday hours. The long weekend is also the perfect time to engage with history and learn more about America’s struggle for inclusive freedom in three powerful and thought- provoking exhibitions: The Emancipation Proclamation, Diversity in Baseball and Power of the Vote, all located on the third floor of the museum.

This week, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center announced the extended run of the popular exhibition highlighting baseball’s game changers, Diversity in Baseball, now open through September 26. The immersive exhibit celebrates players who have broken barriers and changed the game, making it more inclusive and reflective of America’s diverse make-up.

The extension of the exhibition comes in the wake of Major League Baseball’s powerful summit presented in partnership with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, entitled A Social Justice Dialogue of Faith, Community and Baseball. The summit was recorded and is available for viewing on mlb.com.

During Cincinnati’s All Star Summer, the Center welcomed baseball fans from around the region as well as legends of the game, including Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, Ed Lucas,  Major League Baseball’s ambassador of inclusion, Billy Bean and daughter of the late Jackie Robinson, Sharon Robinson. Both Robinson and Bean signed panels within the exhibit.

In addition to the summit in the Harriet Tubman Theater, Ed Lucas spoke to a captive audience on the mound inside the exhibit about his decades-long career in baseball as a blind broadcaster. His new novel, Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story, details some of the stories he shared on the mound of overcoming obstacles and interviewing some of the greatest players off all time, many of whom were barrier breakers themselves.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center highlighted with special programming and exhibition, Power of the Vote. The exhibit explores the history of voting rights in America and reveals the stories of lesser -known history of the key players in the struggle for voting rights. This exhibition is perfect for students and teachers alike!

Want the latest on upcoming special exhibitions, events and programs? Click here to view our seasonal hours.  Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter, and on Facebook for more historical posts and images. 

Assia Johnson
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia: 50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

Images: The Eternal Flame, located on the third floor, Billy Bean signing his panel in Diversity in Baseball and Bridges to Cross March, photo by Katie Johnstone. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 - 4:39pm

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Today the United Nations observes International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The day is meant to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade and give people a chance to think about the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of the slave trade. This day also pays tribute to those who worked hard to abolish slave trade and slavery throughout the world.

Here at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center you can learn about several people who fought to abolish slavery, like Quakers Catharine and Levi Coffin. The Coffins helped thousands of fugitive slaves to safety in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio through the Underground Railroad.

The coffins became abolitionists when they moved to Newport and overheard stories about fugitive slaves in hiding. Many of the escaped slaves were often recaptured, so Levi Coffin and his wife decided they were going to help. Levi Coffin spread the word to the black community that he would hide slaves in his home. During the winter of 1826-1827 the Coffins provided shelter, transportation, food and clothing for the runaways. Word got around of what the Coffins were doing, and many in the town opposed to their actions. However, there were a few who were willing to risk their lives and join the fight. The coffins worked with the other abolitionists to create a more formal route that could move the slaves smoothly from stop to stop.

In 1839, the Coffins had a two-story, eight-room brick house built with several modifications to create better hiding places. The home became a point of convergence for three major escape routes from Madison and New Albany, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio. It is said that they helped as many as 2,000 runaways during the years they lived in Newport.

By 1847 the Coffins left Newport and moved to Cincinnati. They moved houses several times, until they found a home that could be used to continue their efforts of helping fugitive slaves. The large home they purchased had rooms that were rented out for boarding. With the constant flow of guests coming in and out, it was a perfect cover to create a station for the Underground Railroad. The Coffins continued to hide, feed and clothe runaways. Catharine Coffin started creating costumes in order to better disguise them. She dressed them as cooks, butlers and other household workers.  

As time went on, the Coffins focused on other ways of freeing slaves, but never gave up being abolitionists. They are known for leading so many slaves to freedom. Luckily, they were never caught for their great acts and passed away in the late 1800s due to natural causes. 

-Katie Johnstone
Marketing and Communications Intern

Image One: Levi and Catharine Coffin
Image Two: The Levi Coffin house used to hide fugitive slaves. 

More authored by Katie: World Day Against Trafficking In Persons,#FlameFriday:Toni Stone,  Planning your visit Friday, July 10Misty Copland- First African-American woman promoted at the American Ballet Theatre#FlameFriday: Remembering Officer Kim, and Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign
 

Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 12:00am

50 Years Later: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Today is the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Voting Rights Act.  The landmark legislation was signed into law by President Johnson during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, just months after the historic Selma to Montgomery march. The law was designed to enforce the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments, resulting in the mass enfranchisement of minorities throughout the country and the South, where black citizens were denied the right to vote by way of intimidation, literacy tests and other unjust practices.  

The Voting Rights Act was originally set to expire five years after its passing. However, congress would recognize the continued need for legislation that protected voting rights five more times; in 1970, 1975, 1982, 1992 and 2006. During those reviews, Congress either amended or added to various provisions in each renewal of the Voting Rights Act.

In 2013, the landmark U.S Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder, the court determined that section 4 (b), which established a formula to determine areas where racial discrimination had been more prevalent, was unconstitutional. The case argued that Congress exceeded its authority by re-authorizing the Voting Rights Act while relying on voting data more than 40 years old. The nation's reaction was one of shock and many voiced that the decision weakened the law's authority. Recently, President Obama called for the restoration of the section in the law, emphasizing the importance of legislation that protects the civil liberties of its citizens.

To commemorate this important anniversary, The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC), National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) and Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency (CAA) are co-sponsoring commemorative march across the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge this Saturday, August 8 at 9 a.m. Leaders from each partnering organization spoke about the event on WVXU Cincinnati Edition

Marchers are invited to complete “I March for _____” response cards to raise awareness about what society is still marching for today. The response cards be turned into action items by local Cincinnati agencies, who will reconvene throughout the year and lead community discussions inspired by the response cards. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will host a program immediately following the march, featuring local activists and veteran activists, including Freedom Rider Betty Daniels Rosemond, addressing the topic: “Cincinnati 50 Years Ago”. Additionally, all are welcome to weigh in via Twitter by using the hashtag #IMarch4Cincy.  Learn more about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Power of the Vote, now on exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

Assia Johnson

Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Images: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights activists leading thousands of nonviolent marchers on a 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery.  Second Image: President Johnson with Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights leaders during the signing of the Voting Rights Act, August 6, 1965. 

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia: 50 Midwest Museums We LoveMother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 12:39pm

Kerner Commission Established on this Day, 1967

On July 27, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (AKA the Kerner Commission), tasked with assessing the causes of widespread urban rioting at the time. President Johnson asked the 11-member commission, “What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again?”

This came about soon after the infamous 12th Street Riots in Detroit, Michigan, which left more than 40 people dead and 1000 injured.

The report, issued on February 29 of the next year, blamed the more than 150 riots between 1965 and 1968 on “white racism” instead of African-American political groups like some believed. Specifically, it identified confrontations between predominately white police forces and the predominately African-American communities they served. It also cautioned against radical responses by the black community, such as the policy of separatism advocated by some.

It concluded that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal” and called for “programs on a scale equal to the dimension of the problems” in response. The authors recommended nation-wide changes to policies that could increase aid to African American communities in order to halt further racial violence and polarization, especially in employment, education, welfare and housing.

A confluence of events and political opinions in the following years, including the assassination of civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led to the recommendations of the Kerner Commission Report being largely ignored; President Johnson accepted the report but not the conclusions. This milestone document did pave the way for progress in future decades on issues of racial inequality, but its findings unfortunately still ring true today.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Photo: President Johnson poses with the newly appointed Kerner Commission, 1967.

More authored by Elizabeth: Mason man recalls Tiananmen SquareDr. Newsome speaks at international conference in ParisWarren County Underground Railroad station honored with historical markerNHL selects first Chinese player14th Amendment Ratified on this Day, 1868Former Auschwitz guard sentencedHonor Nelson Mandela this Sat with 67 min of service

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