The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, in collaboration with the Know Theatre of Cincinnati, will kick-off Women’s History Month with a production of We Will Rise: Selections from The Afghan Women’s Writing Project. This coming Saturday is International Women’s Day and the birth date of Harriet Tubman, therefore it’s very appropriate to have this production held for a limited run, March 7 and 8, in the Harriet Tubman Theater at the Freedom Center.
The Afghan Women’s Writing Project is aimed at allowing Afghan women to have a direct voice in the world and provides tools, training and an outlet to share their stories. Many of the Afghan women have to make extreme efforts to gain access to a computer to submit their writings. Most of the submissions are done in secret—few details are known about how the writers submit their stories. Tickets for this production can be purchased at knowtheatre.com.
On March 13, 2014 at 6:00pm the Freedom Center is holding a free public program, If Not For Women. This program will feature the remarkable story of Lucy Higgs Nichols Nichols, a runaway slave who joined the 23rd Indiana as a regiment nurse, will be portrayed by Judith C. Owens-Laude. Judith is an author, dramatist, educator, folklorist, and storyteller from Louisville, Kentucky. This outstanding dramatic performance will be followed by a discussion about the contributions of women from the Civil War to Civil Rights. This discussion will be led by Dr. Christine Anderson, Associate Professor at Xavier University, and Dr. Holly McGee, Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati.
Join me in honoring and celebrating women at the Freedom Center and learn more about their brilliance and courage!
Christopher Miller, Manager of Program Initiatives
On Feb. 1, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will kick-off Black History Month with the Cincinnati Childrens Theater's production of The Frederick Douglass Story. In reverence of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the national Black History theme is Civil Rights in America. Though we should celebrate this great milestone, we should not forget that the fight for civil rights began before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It can be argued that the early civil rights leaders were men like David Walker. David Walker’s Appeal, published in 1829, was a document that instilled pride within people of color and gave hope that change would come one day. He spoke against colonization, a movement that sought to move free Blacks to a colony in Africa. Walker believed that America belonged to all who helped build it, especially the enslaved.
The history of civil rights in America is largely the story of African Americans and people of color, defining themselves in the ongoing struggle to obtain the inalienable rights promised to all Americans. Walker’s ideas about America were handed down to many who become defenders of the oppressed and fighters of freedom, regardless of race and gender. Frederick Douglass is part of this continuum of social justice and equal treatment. Douglass was a commanding speaker who compelled audiences as he toured America and overseas. Douglass is one of the most respected and iconic leaders in our country’s history. My favorite Douglass quote is, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.”
Douglass was a man who not only understood the need for freedom and justice, he also understood the necessary sacrifice in having freedom and justice. Through the tool of performing art, join me at the Freedom Center on Feb. 1, and learn more about the brilliance of a man who was an outspoken leader of social justice. Click here for more information on tickets and performance times.
Christopher Miller, Manager of Program Initiatives
[Photo Caption:] A school group on a tour listens to one of our historical interpreters.
Here at the Freedom Center, one of the most powerful ways we reveal stories of freedom’s heroes is by offering guided tours of our exhibits to groups. Many of these tours are given to students from local and regional schools and tie into the work they do in their classes. Tours are essential for us to communicate our message of Courage, Cooperation, Perseverance, and Freedom to the public, and most of these tours are led by our volunteer docents.
Volunteering to give tours at the Freedom Center is a richly rewarding experience. Recently, I have been lucky enough to lead kindergarteners on tours that include our special exhibition, And Still We Rise. The young students enjoy being able to see the quilts up close, and are eager to share the stories they see in the artworks. When the groups listen to our historical interpreters, participating with their voices and their hands, it is a delight to see them learning concepts of self-worth and how to respect others. Through leading tours, docents are able to have a positive impact on students’ understanding of history and their relationship to freedom. Each tour challenges visitors to take steps for freedom today.
The Freedom Center is currently recruiting new volunteers to help us carry out this key part of our mission. Volunteer docents are essential and valued members of the Freedom Center family. We are looking for individuals who are willing to work with the public, and we appreciate a diverse group of volunteers who bring a variety of skills to the Center. Volunteer hours are flexible and we provide training on the material covered in tours. I hope you will consider joining us.
-Nancy Yerian, AmeriCorps Member, Ohio Local History Corps
On Nov. 11, 2013 at 6 p.m. the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will host a public program honoring the contributions of African Americans in the military. Called to Arms is a Veterans Day program that will explore the legacies of military service from the lens of African Americans. In celebrating Veterans Day, there are a number of African Americans who are deserving of praise and acknowledgement. My father, who served in the U.S. Navy, would often tell me the story of Dorie Miller when I was a child. When my father spoke of Dorie Miller, he had nothing but pride in his voice.
Following training at the Naval Training Station in Norfolk, Va., Dorie Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro (AE-1) where he served as a Mess Attendant, and then was transferred to the USS West Virginia (BB-48), where he became the ship's heavyweight boxing champion. In July of 1940 he had temporary duty aboard the USS Nevada (BB-36) at Secondary Battery Gunnery School. He returned to West Virginia and on 3 August, and was serving in that battleship when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Miller had arisen at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded. He headed for his battle station only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it, so he went on deck. Because of his physical prowess, he was assigned to carry wounded fellow Sailors to places of greater safety. Then an officer ordered him to the bridge to aid the mortally wounded Captain of the ship. He subsequently manned a 50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship. Of the 1,541 men on the West Virginia during the attack, 130 were killed and 52 wounded. Dorie Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy and he received the Navy Cross for his extraordinary courage in battle.
The story of Dorie Miller is one of many among the legacy of African Americans serving in the military. Stories like the Dorie Miller symbolizes the cornerstones of freedom, courage, cooperation and perseverance. Join us on Nov. 11, 2013 at 6 p.m. for Called to Arms and celebrate the legacies of African American’s military service.
- Christopher Miller, Manager of Program Initiatives
This website was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program