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Friday, December 11, 2015 - 12:00am

James Pate: The Ice Cube of Contemporary Art

The morning after the exhibit opening of Kin Killin’ Kin at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, I drove to Dayton, Ohio to gain a deeper understanding of the images from the artist James Pate.  I had no intentions on expressing my thoughts, yet I felt compelled and moved to do so.  Being a child of the Hip Hop generation, I discovered several similarities between Pate and O’Shea Jackson, famously known as Ice Cube.      

Ice Cube is often credited with shaping gangsta’ rap in the 90’s.  Nevertheless, his creative expression reflected the harsh realities occurring in many communities across the country.  I was 16 years-old when Ice Cube released his debut solo album, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. This classic album is laced with ground-level views of urban communities that are vivid, often frightening, revolutionary and very personal.  The most intense and thought provoking track on the album is Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside), featuring Chuck D from Public Enemy.  This track reflects the social and systemic dysfunction that lead to homicides and the epidemic of gun violence which we still struggle with nearly three decades later.       

James Pate was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where he attended the School for the Creative and Performing Arts. During his senior year he earned a scholarship to attend the Art Academy through a Corbett Award. Pate’s art education is mostly contributed to discipline, dedication, and consistent projects that refined his skills. Pate’s work has been exhibited in a number of select galleries and museums. Widely known for his idiosyncratic Techno-Cubism style which fuses realism with spatial abstraction.  Like Ice Cube, James is using his artistic abilities to address the consequences of gun violence.  And like Ice Cube, he’s unapologetic about his bold reflections of street violence and he’s very deliberate in making the viewer uncomfortable.  In the original 13 images of the Kin Killin Kin series reveal 26 guns and 38 isolated bullets.  The volume of guns and bullets are in conjunction of the volume of lives lost to gun violence.  Pate’s work is a self-described tantrum that reflect his love, concern and frustration.    

Ice Cube followed his debut album with works that reflected his genuine anger and scathing commentary about society's ills.  In similar fashion Pate continues to work on pieces that address violence in hope of inspiring us to find productive and sustainable solutions.  The thing I like most about Ice Cube is his storytelling ability and James Pate is comparable in that way in regards to contemporary art.  Every image in the series as a story and a rhythm that triggers an emotion and renders you vulnerable. 

Kin Killin' Kin is open now at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center through Saturday, February 13, 2016.  I encourage everyone to see the amazing artwork of James Pate and be moved to play a positive role in reducing the violence in our communities.        

Chris Miller

Manager of Program Initiatives

Images: Artist James Pate in gallery and Your History

Related Content: Kin Killin’ Kin, Mascots

More Authored by Chris: Artist and Author Speak  

 

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

Monday, October 12, 2015 - 12:00am

Freedom Center to Host Award-winning Author and Yale University Alumni Jeff Hobbs Thursday

This Thursday, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will host award-winning author and Yale University alumni Jeff Hobbs at 6 p.m. in the Harriet Tubman Theater, where he will discuss his latest work, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. Hobbs’ lecture is the first lecture in the John and Francie Pepper Freedom Lecture Series—a new series connecting the public with award-winning authors, historians and thought-leaders, discussing themes on history, race, culture and modern abolition.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League reveals the story of Hobbs’ college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Through an honest rendering of Robert’s relationships, Hobbs' compelling recounting of events encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship and love.

The lecture series in presented in part by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and sponsored by John and Francie Pepper. In addition to Jeff Hobbs’ lecture on October 15, the public will have the opportunity to hear from three notable authors including; historian Eric Foner on December 1, 2015, 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. Click here for ticket information.

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 and author headshot.

Related Content: Picture FreedomPower of the Vote.

More authored by Assia: King 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

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, May 7, 2015 - 12:00am

The National Youth Summit 2015

“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. 

Assia Johnson
Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

Image: The 2015 Youth Summit in the Everyday Freedom Heroes Gallery

More authored by Assia: Mother's Day Gift IdeasFlame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

 

Monday, December 15, 2014 - 1:31pm

NURFC Youth Docent Graduation: Class of 2013-2014

Last year, the Links and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center's Youth Docents program held  the 2013-14 graduation ceremony and induction of the 2014-15 class in the Grand Hall. It was a night filled with reminiscing and pride for all that the previous year’s youth docents accomplished, as well as an opportunity for our new class to see where they would be just a year from now. Stories of students coming in as shy, introverted teens and leaving as confident young adults as a result of the youth docent training proved to everyone how important and life changing the experience can be.

In addition to learning about the content of the Center’s exhibits and serving as a resource for visitors, participants of the program also enhance their public speaking skills and work on personal development to make them more well-rounded students. The many hours of community service that they devote to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (over 30 hours each!) is great-- not only for resumes, but also for a personal sense of satisfaction.

Last year’s class of Links Youth Docents, represented by 13 local high schools, is full of energy and talent-- I can’t wait to hear from them during the Nov. 19th where they will share with their community, family and friends about what they accomplished in the past year! Students still have time to apply for this year's class of Youth Docents-- click here to fill out the online application. Be sure to follow the Links Youth Docents during their journey on Twitter @FCYouthDocents! 

 

Brittany Vernon, IMLS Coca Cola Museum Studies Apprentice

Related Content: Kin Killin’ KinMascots.

More authored by Brittany: Connecting Art with History: The Freedom Center Team Visits the Contemporary Art Center

Be sure to follow the Youth Docents on Twitter, @FCYouthDocents! Click here to learn more about the Youth Docent Program

Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 12:10pm

Youth Docents as Freedom Ambassadors

Youth Docents Begin Service

Over the past two and a half months, the Freedom Center’s Youth Docents have been acting as guides and educators in our museum. They have been putting their training to use by helping visitors learn from the Freedom Center’s exhibits. On a typical day, a Youth Docent might talk to guests about the original Slave Pen in our Grand Hall or demonstrate how a cotton gin works. They might teach visitors that slavery still exists today or show a family their favorite story quilt in the And Still We Rise exhibit.

A Youth Docent talks to a group of visitors about cotton using samples and a model of a cotton gin.Learning to communicate with the public is not always easy. For some of our teen volunteers, the idea that they were going to have to talk to people was pretty intimidating. Fortunately, practice makes perfect. I recently observed one of our docents enthusiastically demonstrating a hands-on activity to a family. It was wonderful to watch him easily talking to these people because only a few weeks ago he was so nervous that he could barely speak in front of a group. It is amazing to watch this batch of young people gain confidence feel comfortable with the material they know.

More to Learn

Of course training has not stopped completely. The Youth Docents have had a few special experiences since their service began. They have visited Historic New Richmond, Ohio, and participated in Conner Prairie’s “Follow the North Star” interactive program. After each trip, they have discussed what they learned and how it connects to their lives. These dialogues have allowed the Youth Docents to share their observations, thoughts, and feelings about these subjects with each other, and hear perspectives they may not have considered before.Youth Docents stand around the grave marker of Salmon P. Chase at Spring Grove Cemetery.

Beyond Our Walls

One of the Youth Docent Program’s goals is that through their experiences, youth will be inspired to take action to change our world today. In fact, this is part of the Freedom Center's mission: “challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom today.” These Youth Docents take up that challenge by becoming ambassadors to teach not only our visitors, but their entire communities what they learn and encourage others to take action as well. They have made connections between the history we teach here and making an impact on the world they live in today. Click here to learn how to apply for this unique opportunity!

 

-Nancy Yerian, AmeriCorps Member, Ohio Local History Corps

Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 9:33am

Artist & Author Speak

The brilliant artist James Pate was born in Birmingham, Alabama but raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where he attended the School for the Creative and Performing Arts. During his senior year he earned a scholarship to attend the Art Academy through the Corbett Award. Pate’s art education is mostly contributed to discipline, dedication, and consistent projects that refined his skills. Pate’s work has been exhibited in a number of select galleries and museums and is know for his idiosyncratic Techno-Cubism style fusing realism with spatial abstraction. Pate has worked on a powerful series of large charcoal drawings that decry the horrible problem of violence among black youth and the resultant terrorism. In his piece, Defenders of the Corner, the heroics of the black union soldiers are symbolized are merged with a contemporary reflection of drug dealers defending street corners. Pate questions, “What happened between the Civil War era and the present day that causes this degree of dysfunction?”  

Join us at the Freedom Center on April 24 at 7pm for Author & Artist Speak.  We will have candid discussion with James Pate about his artwork.  We will also explore the engaging works of Ohio author J.A. Barnes and artist James Pate. Barnes, an accomplished author and professor of English at Sinclair Community College, will discuss her novel Sherman’s Fifth Corps: A Civil War Novel which reveals the march led by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman through actual and fictional letters, dairies, journals, official reports and the words of ex-slaves. 

In addition to this program, arrive at 6 p.m. for an evening tour of And Still We Rise; Race, Culture and Visual Conversations, the largest African American quilt exhibition.

Cost: $10 | $5 for Members and Students. Click here to purchase tickets.

 -Chris Miller, Manager of Program Initiatives

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