Cincinnati has been recognized as a resource for the international museum community, and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center president Dr. Clarence Newsome had the chance to be part of that honor.
Dr. Newsome traveled to Paris last week as part of a delegation of Cincinnati museum leaders attending the International Council on Museum’s (ICOM) annual meeting.
ICOM was considering Cincinnati and Kyoto, Japan as the top possible locations for its triennial General Conference in 2019 – considered to be the Olympics of the museum world. Ohio ranks 5th in the nation for the number of museums, featuring about 1,500, and nearly 100 museums are in the Cincinnati area alone.
On June 2, Dr. Newsome and other leaders presented on their proposed meeting, which would have had the theme “Curate – Connect – Change.” Cincinnati’s proposal stated, “Today museums are called to go far beyond the role of managing and explaining or to ‘Curate’. Indeed they are called to be agents of connecting and changing people, communities and the world.” In addition to the Freedom Center, meeting attendees would have easy access to Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Taft Museum of Art, the Contemporary Arts Center, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, and many other museums around the region.
In his portion of the presentation, Dr. Newsome emphasized that the National Underground Freedom Center goes beyond the traditional curation techniques of managing and explaining. Instead, he said, the museum tells the stories of real people and the triumph of the human spirit; telling about Freedom Heroes produces meaning to bring about positive change in our world today.
Unfortunately, Cincinnati was not selected. The General Conference would have brought an anticipated 3,000 museum representatives from more than 100 countries to our city.
“Presenting at the ICOM conference was a great opportunity for Cincinnati’s museum community to be part of a larger international dialogue on the future of museums,” Dr. Newsome said.
ICOM is an international group of museums and museum professionals with more than 35,000 members in 136 countries. Click here for more information.
Marketing & Communications Intern
Guiru Zhang of Mason recently wrote in to the Cincinnati Enquirer, recalling his memories of living in Beijing during the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
He wrote in honor of the 26th anniversary of the massacre, which was part of the Chinese government’s crackdown of the pro-democracy movement of the late 1980s. For weeks in spring 1989, demonstrators, mostly students, protested in the square for freedom of speech, freedom of the press and government accountability, among other democratic concepts. On June 4, 1989, troops advanced on the square and opened fire. Estimates of the death toll range from China’s official count of 246 to 2,600. Click here for more on the history of the massacre.
USA Today reports that roughly 100,000 people participated in a remembrance vigil in Hong Kong last Thursday, June 4.
Zhang remembers studying at home on that morning in 1989, his junior high school having closed in response to the martial law intended to stop the protests at Tiananmen Square. At 10 a.m., he says, he heard gunshots a few blocks away in the direction of his younger brother’s grade school, which was still open. He describes how he crouched on his balcony to avoid stray bullets and watched anxiously for a sign of his brother. Half an hour later, his brother and two friends arrived, panting, at their house.
Zhang says memories of that day and knowledge of what has happened after have inspired him to take a strong stance in favor of human rights. He identifies harassment, imprisonment, torture and organ harvesting in China as unacceptable practices that continue on into the present.
“As long as I still have a voice,” Zhang wrote, “I will keep fighting for human rights that have been long overdue for the Chinese people.”
China does not recognize the massive death toll of the massacre and tightened security in the weeks leading up to the anniversary. The White House issued a statement last week supporting “the basic freedoms the protestors at Tiananmen Square sought” and called for China to account for the violence of the massacre. Click here to learn more about responses to this year’s anniversary.
Marketing & Communications Intern
I Hear Music in the Air, Inc. announced this week the awardees of the 2015 Legends Ball. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is one of many organizations and individuals in the tri-state region to be honored during the evening’s event, for exemplary work in history education and preservation. President of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Clarence G. Newsome, PhD, will accept the award on behalf of the organization.
The 14th Annual Legends Ball is the culminating event in the weekend-long I Hear Music in the Air Conference, celebrating leaders in four main categories: the gospel music industry, community leaders, educators and thought-leaders and global influencers. Throughout the weekend, thousands of people from across the country will gather in Cincinnati to connect and learn more about the Gospel music industry.
The conference will include something for everyone – a concert featuring regional and national artists including Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Israel Houghton, William McDowell and William Murphy, a master class focused on navigating the Gospel music industry, a new artist showcase and Bishop Hezekiah Walker’s Choir Fest. Sunday’s ball will feature a powerful keynote address from Pastor Charles Jenkins’ and selections from musical guest Brian Courtney Wilson.
The 14th Annual Legends Ball is presented by I Hear Music in the Air, Inc. and is open to the public. Tickets are $60. The event is black tie and will be held at the Sharonville Convention Center. Doors open at 5 p.m. followed by the program at 5:30 p.m. For more information on the I Hear Music in the Air Conference and this year’s honorees visit http://www.ihearmusicintheair.com/ihmconference/.
“Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope--some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity [and declare] and unconditional war on poverty in America…It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won.” –President Lyndon B. Johnson
On April 28, local students participated in the 2015 Youth Summit, a national conversation on President Johnson’s War on Poverty, led by The National Museum of American History. Many of the programs that the War on Poverty created--including Headstart, Medicare and Medicaid--are familiar to us today. A group of local and national experts joined the conversation virtually including: Dr. Marcia Chatelain, Professor Peter Edelman, Melissa Boteach, Michael Tanner, Sherman B. Bradley, Kevin Finn and John Keuffer.
Students gathered in the Everyday Freedom Heroes Gallery to learn what poverty looks like today, if another War on Poverty is needed and what can young people do about the issue in their community. Click here to learn more about the annual Youth Summit and view current bios.
Want the latest on upcoming special exhibitions, events and programs? Click here to sign up for eNews and updates. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter, and on Facebook for more historical posts and images.
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator
Image: The 2015 Youth Summit in the Everyday Freedom Heroes Gallery
On May 5, The Cincinnatus Association announced a new award honoring Cincinnati Civil Rights icons, Donald and Marian Spencer. The Spencer's, known locally as the “First Couple of Civil Rights” in Cincinnati, will have their legacy immortalized in three separate awards: one for a nonprofit, for-profit and an individual, for “exhibiting conspicuous and enduring contributions to creating greater inclusion and promoting diversity in our community.”
As many Cincinnatians know, the Spencer’s lives were filled with firsts. Donald was the first African American on the Cincinnati Park Board; the first African American broker on the Cincinnati Board of Realtors; the first African American Trustee at Ohio University. Marian integrated Coney Island so her children could swim in the pool; she was the first African American President of Woman’s City Club; the first African American Councilwoman and many other amazing accomplishments which we will highlight that evening.
Additionally, the Cincinnatus Association celebrated its own 95 years of civic activism and community improvement, including its support of groundbreaking efforts in diversity and inclusion. Click here to learn more about the signature event.
Image via Cincinnati.com.
When I first learned of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC), I was newly retired and looking for ways to give back to the community. During that time, Candace Simmons was the volunteer coordinator at the NURFC and she invited me to be part of a committee discussing how volunteers would be an integral and essential part of the new center’s success. After learning more, I knew that this new role was right for me and became the volunteer stage manager for the NURFC ground-breaking ceremony, where I had the pleasure of escorting First Lady Laura Bush and Muhammad Ali to the podium to address the crowd.
Needless to say, my volunteer commitment was strengthened. This newly enhanced commitment followed me as I transitioned to become a member of the inaugural docent (exhibit guide) class under the management of Chris Shires. The class was composed of some of the same docents who are still volunteering at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center today. It didn’t take long for me to realize the value of my volunteer commitment to the NURFC. For me, it reflects a sense of belonging. For them, I believe it reflects their commitment to offer our visitors knowledge that can light up their lives, and at the same time, challenge them to become a light for others.
Through structured development and meaningful community experiences, I can explore and understand different cultures and educate our guests and visitors. One such model is the current special exhibition, Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later. Such stories are absolutely necessary, but are so infrequently told. As a docent of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, I’m inspired and believe that I can make a difference in the world and in our community.
James Brock, docent, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Image: James Brock touring a group on the 2nd floor in front of the Slave Pen.
It's that time of year again--warmer weather, longer days and the return of seasonal visitor hours! School groups from across the region will be visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center this spring, to engage with history, learn about modern abolition and connect with the lessons of the Underground Railroad. In order to accommodate the influx of visiting school groups and the general public, the museum will be open Mondays in May, from 11 a.m... to 5 p.m. So, if you are looking for an additional day to tour one of our permanent exhibitions, see one of our films in the Harriet Tubman Theater or experience a special exhibition before it closes, this extension will provide the perfect opportunity for you and your family!
In addition to Monday's in May, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be open two Sundays in April, the 12th and 26th, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 16 marks Yom Hashoah, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. In honor of this day of remembrance, we welcome you join us throughout the month of April to honor the lives of those who perished and celebrate stories of survival by visiting Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later. In this special exhibition, you can learn more about the history of the Holocaust and the stories of two Cincinnati survivors, Bella Ouziel and Werner Coppel, before it closes at the end of May.
Want the latest on upcoming events and programs? Click here to sign up for eNews and updates. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter, and on Facebook for more historical posts and images. #70YearsLater
-Assia Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator
Image: Detail of artifact inside Unlocking the Gates, part of the Steven F. Cassidy Collection.
During the month of January, celebrations across the tri-state will reflect upon Dr. King's legacy and dream. At the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the 2015 King Legacy Awards Breakfast will highlight past King Legacy Award honorees and the courageous actions of the veterans of Freedom Summer 1964 and the foot-soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. The breakfast, which is presented in partnership with the MLK Coalition, has called the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center home for the past 8 years.
The program following the breakfast will be a celebration of courageous individuals, past and present, and honor the staff, docents and volunteers who have served the center for 10 years. In addition to reflections from past honorees, the program will feature performances from the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Glendale, Ohio and The Filo Quartet of Walnut Hills High School. Courtis Fuller of WLWT-TV will preside as master of ceremonies with a keynote speech from Freedom Center president, Clarence G. Newsome, Ph.D. Below is a full list of events and activities happening in and around the Freedom Center on Jan. 19.
Prior to the Martin Luther King, Jr. day events on the 19th, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center president, Clarence G. Newsome, Ph.D. will address the students of the University of Cincinnati, Tuesday, Jan. 13 in the TUC Great Hall beginning at 12 noon. In addition to Newsome's keynote speech, information will be provided to attendees detailing his theme, which presents various chronological concepts of freedom, from the perspective of "time" until the present thought, of what freedom should look like in our future society: "Freedom Yesterday, Freedom Today, and Freedom Forever." For more information on this event, contact MLK coordinator Eric Watford.
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: Detail image of the voting machine inside special exhibit Power of the Vote.
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 Thursday, King Records now a Cincinnati landmark, On This Day in History: The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Connect with History Labor Day Weekend, 50 Years Later: The Voting Rights Act of 1965, 50 Midwest Museums We Love, Mother's Day Gift Ideas, Flame Friday, Jimmie Lee Jackson, MLK Day 2015
Earlier this month, Malala Yousafzai made history as the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner ever at age 17. Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education rights and has been engaged in activist work since she was only 11 years old! She began by writing blogs for the BBC about her life under Taliban rule and her views on the importance of education for girls all over the world but especially in her country. After Yousafzai was profiled in a New York Times documentary, she rose to fame as a speaker promoting education for girls in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Tragically, as Yousafzai was headed to school one morning, she was shot in the face by a gunman and remained in critical condition for several months. After rehabilitation, Yousafzai was healthy enough to continue her activist work, giving speeches and interviews for women’s education rights and her tragic story provided even more impetus for people to believe in and support her cause. What was called an assassination attempt on Yousafzai’s life caused the United Nations to launch a campaign calling for the education of all children worldwide and eventually led to Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill.
Yousafzai has won numerous awards in addition to her most recent Nobel Peace Prize including being named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2013. Her story is one of inspiration, courage and perseverance. Yousafzai believed in her cause and did whatever she could to get her message out there. As a young girl, she may have thought that there was nothing she could do or that no one would listen to her message but even a small action such as writing a blog entry led to bigger and bigger platforms for her to advocate for equal educational opportunities for all children. Malala Yousafzai’s story proves that anyone and everyone has the power to fight for change and inclusive freedom for people all over the world.
Brittany Vernon, IMLS Coca Cola Museum Studies Apprentice
Image: Malala Yousafzai, The Vancouver Sun.
Someone recently asked me “how do you create exhibits at the Freedom Center?” Well, every exhibit is slightly different, but I can tell you how we created our new online exhibit, Cincinnati’s Soldiers: Men and Women in the First World War.
It began with a collaboration and a collection. The collection, housed at the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, is a group of portraits of service people donated after display at the Allied War Exhibition at Music Hall in 1918. Since we wanted to tell individual stories and show the impact of factors such as race and gender on opportunities to serve, this record of people who served seemed like the perfect place to start. We combed through the photographs to decide which ones we would include. As often happens, we found more stories than we could tell in one exhibit.
The demographics of the portraits tell one story: they are the result of discrimination in the military and aid organizations at that time. In the entire collection – which held nearly 3,000 portraits – there were only ten African-American men, five white women, and no African American women. In addition to portraying racial and gender diversity, we also wanted to show a range of jobs and duties performed by service people in the Great War, so we chose individuals to research based on those factors.
Once we had identified subjects, we had to learn more about them. We used tools such as Family Search and Ancestry.com to look at birth records, census data, and death records to find out more about these individuals’ lives and family relationships. The Cincinnati City Directories told us where and how these people lived. Selective Service Draft cards included servicemen’s professions in civilian life.
For me, learning about these people was the most exciting part of creating the exhibit. Make sure you check out Francis Herman Gow, the Simms family and the professional women (a doctor and a lawyer in 1918!) in Cincinnati’s Solders. If you would like to explore these types of records, visit the Freedom Center’s Family Search Center, where you can research your family’s genealogy.
Once we knew the stories we were telling, we had to put the exhibit together. We wrote a script describing the collection and each individual. The archivists at the Cincinnati History Library and Archives scanned the photographs for online display. The script was revised and edited many times. The look of the exhibit was designed by our Brand Champion, Jesse Kramer, and the content uploaded to the Freedom Center’s website. I hope you get a chance to look at s Soldiers, and that you enjoy learning about these amazing individuals.
- Nancy Yerian, AmeriCorps Member, Ohio History Service Corps
This website was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program