Voices - Visitors' Experience

Visitors' Experience

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, May 4, 2015 - 3:15pm

Fair Trade Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

Still trying to figure out what to get mom this Mother's Day? The Freedom Center Gift Shop is full of great gift ideas, including beautiful handmade, fair trade accessories and jewelry that both celebrate mothers and elevate women and girls around the world.

This month's featured fair trade items come to us from the Nomi Network and Baskets of Cambodia--  two non-profits working to empower survivors of human trafficking with economic and educational opportunities. 

The Nomi Network was founded in 2009, creating economic opportunities for survivors and women at risk of human trafficking. Through their network, women gain employable skills, secure vital income and educate their daughters, breaking the cycle of poverty and exploitation.

Baskets of Cambodia was formed in 1996 in war-torn Cambodia, in villages surrounding the famous temples of Angkor Watt. Their philosophy is to create high quality products that lend pride and self-esteem to all of people involved. In addition to finding a beautiful gift for mom that also empowers women and girls, members of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center receive an additional 10% off their purchase.

If you're looking for a meaningful family experience this Mother's Day weekend, bring your family in to see powerful and thought-provoking temporary exhibitions discussing civil and human rights open this spring:

UNLOCKING THE GATES OF AUSCHWITZ 70 YEARS LATER

OPEN NOW THROUGH MAY 27

Follow the journeys of local Auschwitz survivors, Bella Ouziel and Werner Coppel and explore how life and the spirit of resistance continued amidst the horrors of Auschwitz. 

POWER OF THE VOTE

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Power of the Vote, explores and chronicles the history of voting rights in America from the Reconstruction Era to the Civil Rights Movement to present day. 

Click here to view our seasonal hours and plan your visit.

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 

Images: The Freedom Center Gift Shop display, featuring Baskets of Cambodia and Nomi Network accessories and clothes. 

More authored by Assia:  Flame FridayJimmie Lee JacksonMLK Day 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 12:00am

Docent Stories: James Brock, Celebrating 10 Years as a NURFC Docent

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 3:13pm

Freedom Center Seasonal Hours are Back

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. 

 

Upcoming Programs and Events

Educator Workshop: Transform and Remember: Liberation and Rebuilding After Auschwitz

The John and Francie Pepper Freedom Lecture Series: Dr. Jonathan Scott Holloway Jim Crow Wisdom

Aruna Run: Cincinnati 5K

Online Exhibitions and Resources

Cincinnati's Soldiers: Men and Women in the First World War

Digital Collections and Exhibitions

 

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 

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

Image: Detail of artifact inside Unlocking the Gates, part of the Steven F. Cassidy Collection.

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 1:47pm

Jimmie Lee Jackson: The Murder that Sparked the Selma to Montgomery Marches of 1965

On February 26, 1965, Alabama civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson died after he was brutally beaten and shot by Alabama State Trooper James Bonard Fowler during a peaceful voting rights march on February 18, 1965. His death would spark the Selma to Montgomery marches, organized by Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Director of Direct Action James Bevel, in an effort to channel community outrage. The Selma to Montgomery marches, three in total, were organized as part of the Selma Voting Rights Movement, whose efforts led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 later that summer. 

The first march took place on Sunday, March 7, a day that would become known as Bloody Sunday, when 600 peaceful marchers were met by state and local law men with tear gas and billy clubs on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Images of the violence in Alabama sparked national outrage and two days later, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a peaceful, symbolic march to the bridge.

After civil rights leaders received full protection to exercise their right to peacefully protest, the third and final march was held on Sunday, March 21, where over 3,000 marchers began the 54-mile trek to Montgomery. By the time they reached the steps of the state capitol on March 25, the number had grown to 25, 000.

In 2010, nearly 45 years after Jackson’s death, Alabama State Trooper James Bonard Fowler was indicted and plead guilty to misdemeanor manslaughter. He was sentenced to six months in prison. You can learn more about the history of voting rights in Power of the Vote, open now.

 

-Assia Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter, and on Facebook for more historical posts and images.

 

Images: Alabama activist Jimmie Lee Jackson, image of portrait Jimmie Lee Jackson in All for the Cause and image of the voting machine inside Power of the Vote

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 12:00am

Young, Powerful and Influential: How Malala Yousafzai is Changing the World

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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 1:31pm

A Day in the Life of a Museum Apprentice

As an museum apprentice at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, one part of my job is to go through the museum every day to make sure every single aspect of each exhibition is functioning, undamaged and ready for a day of visitor interaction. I carefully walk into each exhibition as if I am visiting the museum for the first time, looking at every text panel, listening to all of the audio panels, manipulating all of the interactive displays and watching a small bit of each film. As I check items off on my list, I sometimes get quizzical looks from visitors wondering about my curious behavior. To be honest, if I wasn’t the one doing my job I would also find it strange to see someone pressing every single button and looking so closely at displays. But I try to normalize the experience for the people around me by explaining what I’m doing, and that is usually met with praise and awe that I’m lucky enough to explore our awesome exhibits every day.

Another aspect of daily museum walkthroughs is collecting the surveys from the Invisible: Slavery Today exhibition and the guest book reflections from the And Still We Rise exhibition. Every question, comment or concern gets read by me and entered into our records every day. In And Still We Rise, many people commented in hopes that the exhibit could travel to other states and now that it’s run here at the Freedom Center has ended, I am happy to say it is currently traveling all across the country on a two-year tour! In Invisible: Slavery Today, many commenters reflect on the surprising facts of modern day slavery that make them want to become involved as an abolitionist- so great news! There are now updated fact sheets at the end of the gallery and a new website, which list ways you can get involved.

Every visitor and all feedback is extremely appreciated and helpful in determining the future of our exhibitions so please continue to visit and let us know what you think!

-Brittany Vernon, IMLS Coca Cola Museum Studies Apprentice

Image: A shot of the new Freedom Center exhibition, Foto Focus: New Voices.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 4:13pm

Freedom Center Voices: Meet Gina Armstrong

Now that I've been at the Freedom Center for almost a year, regaling you with exciting behind-the-scenes tales of collections and exhibits, it's time to introduce myself.

 Gina Armstrong in front of David Turnley's photo of Nelson Mandela.I'm Gina Armstrong, one of the IMLS Coca-Cola Museum Studies Apprentices at the Freedom Center. I come to the Freedom Center fresh off a masters of library and information studies (MLIS), with an archival concentration, at the University of Alabama. Your next question is probably "How did you get from Alabama to Cincinnati? How did you even know about the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center?" Excellent questions. I have long been a social justice advocate, and spent my practicum time in graduate school working with the archives at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The longing for freedom is just in my blood, I guess. I also have a longtime friend who has lived in the area for close to 20 years, so I'd been to visit the Freedom Center a couple of times before learning of the apprenticeship and applying.

As an archivist, my primary interest is in the artifacts themselves -- "the stuff," as I like to call it. With my information background, I want to make sure that the artifacts are stored, cataloged, and described in the best way to make them easy to access, both for visitors and staff. I've long been an obsessive list-maker and user of databases, so cataloging and describing material comes naturally to me and makes me happy in the best nerdy way.

Outside of work, I am a voracious reader, a fan of punk and '80s music, and a rabid fan of the New Orleans Saints. It will also come as no shock that New Orleans is my favorite city in the country, if not the world. I am a inveterate traveller, and I've been all over the U.S., to Brazil and Zimbabwe on service trips, Great Britain on study and pleasure trips several times, Germany a few times on visits with friends and pleasure trips, and Italy, Peru, and Paris for pure pleasure. It will perhaps not be very surprising that I'd like to visit the three other continents I've never seen.

I'm excited to continue my apprenticeship at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for the next 12 months, learning more and more about museum work while fulfilling my passion for "the stuff."

 

-Gina Armstrong, IMLS Coca Cola Museum Studies Apprentice 

Image: Gina Armstrong inside Senzeni Na? Selected Photos from Mandela! Struggle and Triumph

Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 12:00am

The Most Important People at the Freedom Center

Picture of hanging collage of images of Freedom Heroes and Abolitionists in the Freedom Center's Escape Gallery.“OK, so who are the most important people at the Freedom Center?” I asked the Youth Docents. We were doing a training on communication and customer service, and to be honest the answer I was fishing for was “visitors.” The first answer I got, however, was an important reminder.

“The people in the exhibits. The abolitionists and conductors.” Of course, this Youth Docent was right! Our visitors, our audience, the community we work in and seek to educate are very important. But so are the Freedom Heroes whose stories we tell. It reminded me of a college professor who used to tell us that we studied history “to honor the lived experiences” of the people we read about.

Why should we honor their experiences? Because the Freedom Heroes are inspiring – but they are much more than an inspiration. Freedom Heroes from abolitionists to Civil Rights activists were trailblazers who risked their reputations and their lives for a more just and free society. We would not be where we are today without their courage and perseverance.

Yet most of these people never received recognition in their lifetimes. Just the opposite, in fact: many were ridiculed, outcast, threatened or confronted with violence. Many abolitionists were heckled and threatened when speaking in public. Several Civil Rights leaders were assassinated for their activism. Because of the challenging and often thankless work they did, we owe it to them to honor their stories, just as we owe it to future generations to continue the struggle.

- Nancy Yerian, AmeriCorps Member, Ohio History Service Corps

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

Pages