Misty Copland, 32, has become the first African-American female to be promoted to the highest rank at the American Ballet Theatre. She is a 19-year veteran of the company, being promoted from a soloist to a principal dancer. The company has been around for 75 years, making this a huge accomplishment for Copeland.
Copeland was born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California. She began ballet at the age of 13 and studied at the Lauridsen Ballet Centre, San Francisco Ballet School and American Balley Theatre’s Summer Intensive. Copeland joined the American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001 and was appointed a soloist in August 2007.
In the past year, Copeland has danced a variety of leading roles. Her performances have become events, drawing in large and diverse crowds. She has performed at many prestigious venues including, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Recently she starred in “Swan Lake,” becoming the first African-American to do so with the Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Copeland has also drawn attention outside the world of ballet, appearing in and being the face of national campaigns, including a commercial for Diet Dr. Pepper and Prince’s 2010 tour. In 2014 she became the first ballet dancer to appear in an Under Armour ad, which had more than four million views on YouTube in a week. Last year, Copland was named of one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and was featured on one of the covers for the issue.
Though her promotion and recent fame has been celebrated by many, it has also raised questions about why African-American dancers, mainly women, remain so underrepresented at top ballet companies in today’s society. Several dance companies and schools, including the Ballet Theater, have begun new efforts to increase diversity in classic ballet, however doing so will take years.
Copeland strength, talent and determination has opened doors for many women of color to follow in her footsteps. In additional to her many accomplishments, she has become involved in the American Ballet Theatre’s Project Plié, an initiative to draw more diverse dancers into elite ballet.
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Image: Misty Copeland performing in "Swan Lake" at the Metropolitan Opera House. Photo credit: eurweb.com.
Today we honor local hero and Cincinnati Police Officer, Sonny Kim. On the morning of Friday, June 19, Officer Kim, responded to a 911 call, when he was fatally shot by Trepierre Hummons who later died at the hospital.
Kim was a dedicated public servant, faithfully serving the city of Cincinnati for 27 years. Throughout his career as an officer, Kim earned 22 commendations and was praised in 2012 by the U.S. department of Justice for his service. He left behind a wife and three children, who the city has deeply showed their support for.
Yesterday, thousands from around the region paid their respects to Kim and his family during a public visitation held at the Cintas Center at Xavier University. Officer Kim's funeral service will be held at the Cintas Center this morning at 11 am. The general public is welcome to attend and will be asked to sit in the “bowl area,” where fans sit for Xavier sporting events. Doors will open at 9 am and those in attendance should be seated by 10 am. The funeral is expected to last a little over an hour. His funeral will be live streamed at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center beginning at 11 am for those who wish to gather and watch there.
After the funeral, there will be a 14-mile motorcycle procession to the Gate of Heaven Cemetery. The public is encouraged to line the procession along Montgomery Road from Cleneay Avenue to the cemetery. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is asking everyone to wear blue on Friday to remember Officer Kim and to show support for law enforcement. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and the City of Cincinnati.
Marketing and Communications intern
Image: Officer Kim was a martial arts expert and chief instructor at the Karate-Do center in Cincinnati. Photo credit: cincinnati.com.
More authored by Katie, Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign.
Last Friday, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center hosted the Freedmen’s Bureau Indexing Campaign announcement. FamilySearch, the largest genealogy organization in the world, announced the digital release of over 4 million Freedmen’s Bureau historical records and the launch a nationwide volunteer indexing effort. The event was held in the Harriet Tubman Theater and a livestream was broadcast from the main press event that took place at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. There were several speakers at the event in Los Angeles, including Todd Christofferson, senior-level leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Sherri Camp, vice president for geneaology of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society.
Following the live stream, visitors in the Harriet Tubman Theater had the opportunity to discuss their efforts with FamilySearch and hear from:
It took nearly ten years for the records to be digitized and now the hope is to have all the names indexed in the next six to nine months. If you would like to help with this nationwide indexing campaign or learn more about your family history, you can right here at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center! The John Parker Library offers free family history resources and is located on the fourth floor of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Volunteers working in the library can help you join the indexing campaign and help you learn more about your ancestry.
The John Parker Library is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. To learn more about the Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign, visit discoverfreedmen.org.
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Henry Thomas and Nancy Butterworth have been honored with a new Ohio historical marker at the site of their mid-1800s home in southern Warren County.
Their family contributed their land in Hamilton Township as a station on the Underground Railroad and helped hundreds of fugitive slaves fleeing north in the decades before the Civil War. Slaves would find shelter in a saferoom in their home on the banks of the Little Miami River before moving onward to Lebanon or Clinton County.
The Butterworths’ two-story house at 9299 Sibcy Road still stands today, and on Saturday, June 6 a historical marker was unveiled at the site with Butterworth family descendants and Friends of the 20 Mile House present at the ceremony. The marker is near mile marker 39 on the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
"Southern Ohio played a vital role in the success of the Underground Railroad in helping enslaved people reach freedom, and Ohioans did so at great risk to themselves," said the Local History Office at the Ohio History Connection. "Markers are a reminder that history always happens in a place and that, at least in Ohio, there are a lot of those places! We hope that this marker for Butterworth Station will make the contributions of Ohioans more visible to the public, so that we can be inspired by the actions and sacrifices of those that travelled on and supported the Underground Railroad."
The Butterworths were Quaker abolitionists who moved north to states that outlawed slavery, and the family’s contributions to the Underground Railroad didn’t stop with them. Henry Thomas’s brother William also sheltered slaves in his nearby barn, and Nancy’s cousin Levi Coffin was known as the “President of the Underground Railroad” for his work in Indiana and Cincinnati.
For more information on Underground Railroad sites in Ohio and the Cincinnati area, check out this list.
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The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has been named one of Midwest Living’s “50 Midwest Museums We Love.” Midwest Living, whose readership reaches 4.1 million people across 12 states, noted the Center as a “multilevel museum [that] captures the history of slavery and the struggle for freedom. One of the most powerful of the state-of-the-art exhibits is a slave pen [found] on a Kentucky farm. The sobering messages aren’t easy to hear, but they are lessons to remember.”
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center was the only Cincinnati museum to make the list and was included alongside four other prestigious institutions and museums in Ohio including; the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Jess Hoffert, staff editor at Midwest Living, added that, “On a previous visit, we especially enjoyed the powerful “Brothers of the Borderland” film, which dramatizes the journey across the Ohio River to freedom. One of the many components that sets this museum apart is its emphasis on storytelling.”
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center received this recognition during the latter half of its year-long, tenth anniversary celebration, which began with a week-long celebration culminating in the International Freedom Conductor Awards Gala, honoring President Lech Walesa of Poland and former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa last August. In addition to the gala, the anniversary features special exhibitions highlighting diverse struggles for freedom including: Senzeni Na? Selected Photographs from Mandela! Struggle and Triumph, Mandela: A Living Legacy, Power of the Vote, Picture Freedom and Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later. The final anniversary exhibition, Diversity in Baseball, opens June 26 and celebrates baseball’s game changers, who have broken barriers to make America’s pastime more reflective of America’s diverse make-up.
Click here to view the fill list of museums that made the top 50. 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.
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator
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.
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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.
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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.
This website was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program