Freedom Center Voices

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, January 8, 2015 - 1:19pm

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Legacy

As the New Year Begins, the Community Gathers to Recommit to Dr. King's Dream

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.

 FREE Programming at the Freedom Center MLK Day, Jan. 19

  • Family-friendly, hands on activities
  • Dramatic readings
  • First- person interpretations
  • admission to permanent and temporary exhibitions, including Power of the Vote, which explores and chronicles the history of voting rights in America from the Reconstruction Era to the Civil Rights Movement to present day 

Public Programming at the Freedom Center

  • 2015 King Legacy Awards Breakfast at 8 a.m. in the Grand Hall, followed by programming and performances in the Harriet Tubman Theater at 9 a.m. Tickets are $35. Call 513-333-7706 for ticket information
  • Freedom Center opens FREE to the public, open until 5 p.m. 
  • Martin Luther King Day March, beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

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.

Related Content: Kin Killin’ Kin, The Thirteenth Amendment.

More authored by Assia: 150th Anniversary of the 13th Amendment: President Obama Gives Presidential ProclamationFlame Friday: Artist James PateFreedom 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, 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, 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.

Friday, August 29, 2014 - 12:33pm

Emmett Till: When America Could No Longer Ignore Jim Crow

On August 21, 1955, 14-year old Emmett Till traveled from his hometown of Chicago to visit his cousins in Money, Mississippi. On August 31, his mutilated corpse was pulled from the Tallahatchie River.

What happened in between was one of the most infamous instances of racial injustice in our nation’s history. Emmett Till was young, black and outgoing. He had been raised in Chicago, where race relations were not as tense as in the South and where black people did not live in constant fear of their white neighbors. When he went to visit his cousins in Money, he was thrown headfirst into a world of extreme social inequality, a world whose dangers he did not fully understand.

Emmett was resistant to the long list of rules and taboos that governed interactions between blacks and whites. He wowed the local children with stories of his white girlfriends back home, and he was brave enough to wolf whistle at the white woman working at the local general store. Stories of Emmett’s behavior toward Carolyn Bryant, the young woman at the general store, spread throughout Money. Her husband soon heard about the incident, and he decided he needed to teach Emmett a lesson.
Early in the morning on August 28, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam went to the home of Emmett’s uncle Mose Wright and demanded that Emmett come with them.

Three days later, Till’s body was found in the Tallahatchie River. His skull was deformed by a brutal beating, and one of his eyes had been gouged out. He had been shot and thrown into the river with a heavy fan blade attached to his neck with barbed wire.
Bryant and Milam were brought to court for Till’s kidnapping and murder, but after only an hour of deliberation, the all-white jury returned its verdict: not guilty. A year later, Bryant and Milam admitted to murdering Till in an interview with Look magazine.

In the days and weeks following Emmett Till’s murder, the act of violence was condemned by local media and white public figures. However, as the case received increasing national attention, Northern media outlets began attacking the climate of racial injustice in Mississippi, and locals began to indignantly defend Bryant and Milam. Black media outlets played a large role in expanding the notoriety of Till’s murder. When Jet magazine published a photo of Emmett’s disfigured remains, outrage spread throughout black communities nationwide.

The media coverage became a war between those calling for justice and those defending the status quo. No matter what side a person took, the battle could not be ignored because it had made its way into the family living room. Television made inequality visible in a way it never had been before. In a way, the tragedy served as a unifying force, concretizing and focusing the righteous anger of black people and other proponents of equality. This anger had been living beneath the surface and building in intensity for generations.  
Till’s murder is considered to have set the Civil Rights Movement in motion. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus, she was thinking of Emmett Till, she has said. After decades of segregation, humiliation and fear, black people in the South had decided that enough was enough.

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer-- when a diverse group of students and young activists mobilized en masse to travel to the regions where racism ruled and fight for voting rights and desegregation. Freedom Summer showed us the important role young people play in inciting action and creating change. It demonstrated the power of a community united, even if that community is brought together not by geography but by a shared passion and common goal.

Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Movements had many successes: the end of de jure segregation, the reduction of discriminatory voting practices and the turning of national sentiment in favor of racial equality. However, the challenges faced by the participants in these movements are not unknown to those still fighting for racial equality today. Discrimination continues to fester in the workforce, the real estate market, the classroom, the voting booth and the newsroom. We still turn a blind eye to injustice. We still have a soft spot for the status quo. It was only one year ago when our Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This action has the potential to jeopardize disadvantaged Americans’ right to vote. 1964 was also the year that President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war of poverty in America, enacting legislation meant to tackle the national poverty rate. However, wealth disparity in our country is on the rise, and Americans living in poverty are disproportionately people of color. A discriminatory penile system and the “school to prison pipeline” have led to the mass incarceration of black men and permanent barriers to voting and employment.

Three months ago, the kidnapping of more than 300 young women in Nigeria by an extremist group led to international outrage and the explosion of the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. The kidnapping was an attack on the education of women. Now, as the outcry on social media dies down, the girls remain in captivity, and their families continue to fight for their safe return.  
There are more people enslaved today than at any other time in human history, but their suffering goes largely unheard.
Just like the murder of Emmett Till, these realities deserve our righteous anger.

While the fight against modern slavery is gaining momentum worldwide, it has not yet matched the Civil Rights Movement in terms of national attention, support and action. It may seem like that modern abolitionism has not yet had its Emmett Till, but in reality there have been millions of Emmett Tills, millions of young men and women who have had their lives taken and their freedom stolen. As long as slaves remain nameless faces and slavery a nebulous concept far from our everyday lives, we will continue being content with the status quo.

Tatum Hunter, Public Relations Intern

Image Credit: The Lace Doesn't Lessen the Horror of Pulling E mmett from the Water, Charlotte O'Neal.  And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations. See it before it closes Sept. 2.

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

Monday, August 4, 2014 - 12:00am

Youth Action Against Modern-Day Slavery

You have raised my awareness…now what? One of biggest frustrations in the anti-trafficking movement is the idea that we, particularly youth and young adults, can’t do anything to significantly influence the fight against modern-day slavery. Our choice is either to do nothing – sinking into despair thinking we’re powerless – or to do what we can with what we have where we are. Every experience and decision leads to a different pathway, and these small life choices and acts build towards a bigger goal and vision. You may not be the CEO of an NGO or a globe-trotting emancipator, but you matter. Your efforts will make a difference.


Learn More

The first and most important action you can take is to become well-versed in the subject; dig a bit deeper after your introduction to the issue of human trafficking. There’s misinformation out there, and it is crucial that you separate the myths from the realities. In doing so, you avoid tunnel vision and truly get a better idea of how multi-faceted trafficking is. Additionally, through the education process, you’ll become familiar with major stakeholders and reliable sources of information; as a result, you’ll strengthen your ability to direct others to accurate information. Your authority to engage others in the subject and the anti-trafficking movement’s credibility hinges on this knowledge base.

Learning is not limited to books and online research. Attend events such as the Trafficking in Persons Heroes Reception hosted at the Freedom Center every year. Find a World Affairs Council near you (there’s one in Cincinnati!) and join in on one of their conference calls. A recent call featured Luis CdeBaca, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Buy Fair Trade

Change starts with the individual, and other than learning more, another personal endeavor is to re-examine how our consumer choices feed the cycle of enslavement. Slave-made products are all around us, and yes, at this time it might be impossible to only purchase fair trade products. However, we can still make small advances towards promoting and supporting ethically-made goods. It starts with the following question: what do I really need to have, and what is a luxury item? For me, the answer is chocolate. I love it, but honestly, it’s a treat that I can live without. It’s the one item that I’ve pledged to buy only if it is free of slave labor. So, instead of grabbing candy every time I go to the grocery store, I save up and buy chocolate at a local fair trade shop.

Practicing this type of consumer activity is an exercise of mindfulness and gratitude. It makes us reflect on what we have, what we truly need and the implications of our purchases.

Learn more about fair trade here, and find a fair trade store near you.


Fair trade stores aren’t the only organizations looking to end modern-day slavery, and buying items isn’t the only way to financially support anti-trafficking work. There are a lot of NGOs and nonprofits that run much-needed programs, from investigation to reintegration. However, these organizations require funding. Many of them have individual fundraising pages. Ideas include marathons (5K runs for charity), garage sales, silent auctions and restaurant nights. Here’s a list of restaurants that donate a portion of proceeds during fundraising nights.

Volunteer/Intern Locally

Fundraising is one way to get directly connected with organizations fighting trafficking. Volunteering and interning locally are also ways to get involved. Direct volunteers (i.e., those who personally interact with clients) are usually 18 or older, but there are other roles to fill as well. The End Slavery Now Directory of Organizations can help you find groups in your area; in Cincinnati, there are several that address different aspects of human trafficking. Visit End Slavery Cincinnati, Ten Thousand Villages, Jean R. Cadet Restavek Organization, Restavek Freedom Foundation, Stop Traffick Fashion and Cincinnati Union Bethel to learn about their initiatives. Also, check out organizations that are not exclusively for trafficked persons. Detox houses, domestic abuse centers and shelters for minors often have volunteer opportunities. These are places that often serve trafficking survivors.

Volunteer/Intern Abroad

If you have a heart for serving but want to take that to the international level, check out Crossroads’ mission trip to India or Half the Sky Movement’s openings. End Slavery Now’s Antislavery Partners usually have a variety of volunteer and internship opportunities abroad.

Volunteer/Intern Virtually

You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to help organizations. The U.S. State Department hires virtual student foreign service e-interns, and the United Nations has online volunteering opportunities.

Initiate a School Campaign

While volunteering or interning with organizations, you’ll find that there’s still an immense need for more people to get involved. You can be a recruiter and encourage others to take part in these anti-slavery efforts. Counselors, administrators and parents are always telling us to get involved in school. Starting a campaign against trafficking is a way to engage your school community in the conversation, and it will also help you develop communication and management skills. Campaign ideas include a simulation, play or film screening.

Who knows? Your school might already have an anti-slavery organization that could co-sponsor an event. If so, check out The Free Project and be part of the network of students striving to end slavery.

Host a Speaker

Campaign organizers often find it beneficial to host speakers or facilitate panel discussions. A passionate and knowledgeable speaker can move people and incite thought and conversation. There are a multitude of survivors, advocates and experts willing to share their work and their stories. Head to End Slavery Now’s list of Antislavery Partners and see which organizations have speakers on deck. International Justice Mission, for example, has a variety of experts that can talk about a wide range of topics – from justice operations to strategic initiatives.

Be a Speaker

You are also qualified to talk about human trafficking. We cannot negate the value of including kids in the conversation, and you can be the one to start that partnership. Most curricula in elementary, middle and high schools include a section on chattel slavery. These required class lectures are chances to introduce students to 21st century slavery in an age-appropriate manner. Give an overview of the situation, and ask questions that make them think. We build strong communities – and for that matter, strong anti-human trafficking communities – when we approach everyone in society. Each person, no matter how young or old, has something to contribute. Establish those ties by leading stimulating discussions, motivating others to become global citizens and cultivating the next generation of thinkers and problem-solvers.

Talent Show

Sometimes, we’d prefer to talk less and express more. Organizing or participating in a talent show is another way to raise awareness and give a voice to the anti-human trafficking cause. A talent showcase can include artwork, slam poetry, music and dance. There are several anti-human trafficking inspired pieces. Take a look at artwork from Artworks for Freedom, listen to this poem from the Polaris Project and check out these music videos  from MTV EXIT. The point is not to sensationalize or trivialize human trafficking but to express the truths about it through various methods.

Develop an App or Virtual Tour

There’s no limit to the ways in which you can creatively involve others in the anti-slavery dialogue. If you enjoy coding, programming or designing, consider creating an app or virtual tour related to human trafficking. You can develop something as complex as Slavery Footprint or create a virtual tour on YouTube (e.g.., have a progressive set of videos where viewers can learn about anti-trafficking laws and their outcomes).

Conduct Research

You can always explore fresh and innovative ways to contribute to human trafficking content, but remember that academic research is also necessary. Modern-day slavery only started to gain attention a few years ago, and there’s a dearth of rigorous and useful research material. Potential thesis topics could address human trafficking and its relationship to local law enforcement, state legislation, culture, global climate change, nationalism, foreign policy relations, economic sanctions, human development, etc.


If you like to write, research isn’t the only way to utilize this skill. You can write an op-ed or send a letter to your state representatives. Write encouraging letters to organizations helping trafficked persons or make cards for their clients. Be that positive light. No matter what role or sector someone is in, anti-human trafficking work is exhausting; there will be moments of discouragement and failure. Your contribution might be to lift people up with words of reassurance, reminders of success stories and cheers of inspirations.

Everyone has a different calling in life, and there are different levels of involvement. Given the options you can take, go confidently in the direction you choose and realize that you are an abolitionist. Take a look at the work of some young abolitionists:

·         Middle and high school students around the world have been fundraising for The A21 Campaign.

·         Read about Ellie Zika. She founded KidKnits at age nine out of a desire to promote fair labor and education in Rwanda.

·         Watch a preview of The Arts Effect NYC’s play on sex trafficking and the commercial sex trade.

Now, it’s your turn. Be a source of hope wherever you are and know that there are others fighting human trafficking along with you.

Post written by Cazzie Reyes, Contemporary Slavery Intern during Summer 2014. Cazzie is from Bradley University in Peroria, Illinois.

Image: Fair-trade chocolate, Nico Nelson.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 10:32am

Welcome to Cincinnati!

Welcome to Cincinnati and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center! It's an honor to welcome you to the city. There are plenty of amazing Cincinnati attractions for you to see and experience during your visit — including Macy's Music Festival and the Freedom Center. 

This year we’re celebrating 10 years of championing freedom and history with our special exhibition,  And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations. The beautifully hand-crafted exhibition invites you to experience 400 years of black history in 85 beautiful story quilts—from the arrival of the first slave ships to the first black president, Barrack Obama. In addition to And Still We Rise, we have two new exhibitions: Cincinnati’s Soldiers: Men and Women of the First World War , the new online exhibition highlighting the contributions of African Americans and women in the first world war and All for the Cause, an exhibition featuring multimedia portraits of civil rights leaders and everyday freedom heroes who gave their lives in the struggle for civil rights.

While you’re visiting, take a selfie with your favorite quilt from And Still We Rise or take a picture with the eternal flame, or another part of your visit that you enjoyed and tag it #CelebratingFreedom—our favorites will be reposted all weekend long via Instagram (IG) and Twitter. You can learn more about our year-long 10th anniversary celebrations by visiting us online, Facebook, IG and Twitter, @FreedomCenter. We know you’re going to have a great time in Cincinnati this week, so join us in celebrating 10 years of history, courage, cooperation and perseverance!



Assia Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator

Image: Assia's Museum Selfie inside And Still We Rise. Featured Quilt: Sit in, by Ed Johnetta Miller.