Freedom Center Voices

Friday, October 7, 2016 - 10:46am

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Special Hours This Saturday, October 8

FotoFocus has returned to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in a stunning three- part installation in the Skirball Gallery, as part of FotoFocus's Biennial -- Photography, the Undocument. This Saturday, October 8, the museum will close to the public at 3:00p.m. for the opening reception and program with one of the artists featured in the exhibition, South African artist Zanele Muholi, who refers to her work as "visual activism." If you haven't purchased your FotoFocus Passport, you can do so here. The program is free to Passport holders. 

About the Biennial
The FotoFocus Biennial is a regional, month-long celebration of photography and lens-based art held throughout Cincinnati and the surrounding region. Featuring over 60 participating museums, galleries, academic institutions, and community organizations, the 2016 Biennial will include original FotoFocus curated exhibitions and four days of events and programming, including screenings, lectures, and performances.



OCTOBER 1, 2016 - JANUARY 23, 2017

OCTOBER 1, 2016 - JANUARY 23, 2017

OCTOBER 1, 2016 - JANUARY 23, 2017

Demetrius Williams, Marketing and Communications Intern

Images: Zanele Muholi

Related Content: FotoFocus, Solitary Confinement Cell Experience.

More authored by Demetrius: Introducing Demetrius Williams, Marketing Intern



Friday, October 7, 2016 - 12:00am

Ambassador Battle Reviews: The Queen of Katwe

The Queen of Katwe is an excellent movie for multiple reasons; I will mention five of the key reasons everyone should see this movie. The first reason is that The Queen of Katwe demonstrates the very clear connection between learning chess and the development of long-term strategic planning and reasoning skills. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Gloria says that the power of chess is that “the small one can become the big one”. This is a lesson about how life is not determined by one’s size or status but by what ones does with their size and status. With intentional strategy “the small one can become the big one”.

The second reason for not missing this excellent movie is that it demonstrates the value of providing access to education to rural and urban populations inclusively by being intentional about access to education for girls. I have traveled extensively throughout the African Continent and have seen the advantages a nations gains by inclusive education and the disadvantages a nation suffers by the denial of inclusive education. When a nation does not provide inclusive access to education opportunities for girls that nation limits its own potential.

The third reason that The Queen of Katwe is a must see is its presentation of the power and resilience of family to love and learn through any adversity. The nuances of the relationship between Nakku and each of her children as well as the nuances of the relationships between each of the children was a remarkable study of family dynamics.  Nakku was dealing with the premature death of her husband while raising a family with values she would not compromise. The conflict Nakku had with Night and the tension Phiona had trying to mediate that conflict were rooted in love. Both Night and Phiona feared the all too common fate of young girls growing up in rural Uganda but chess provide Phiona a different outcome than what Night experienced. Benjamin’s initial tension with Phiona’s developing chess skills and his eventual embracing of her mastery of the game was a rich lesson of love and support. 

The fourth reason is that the film's portrayal of life in Uganda is so real that it reminded me of my time in Uganda, a nation with such great possibilities and that is benefiting from its participation in the common market of the East African Communities. This movie brings Uganda to life. While a poor nation, Uganda is poised to benefit tremendously from increased attention to infrastructure development to include an expanded electrical grid. 

The Queen of Katwe is a compelling and moving film that showcases the positive change that can be made by active NGOs (non-government organizations) when led by people with a compassion for the development of others. David’s interest in the young people for whom he was responsible demonstrated the power of authentic care and compassion for the total well-being of youth who would have otherwise been left with limited hope.


Amb. Michael A. Battle, DMin, executive vice president & provost

Image Credit: Disney



Friday, September 16, 2016 - 11:31am

Introducing Demetrius Williams, Marketing Intern

Hello everyone! My name is Demetrius Williams and I am the new Marketing & Communications Intern for the Fall of 2016. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where I attended Hughes Center High School. Now, I am a student at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College pursuing my Associates Degree in Audio/Video Production. Once accomplished, I would like to attend Northern Kentucky University and obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Communications.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a place of knowledge, inspiration and peace. I wanted to Intern at here because I have a desire to learn more about history and our freedom heroes. On the technical side of things, I also want to know the procedures that are needed for interacting with the media and marketing promotion. I would like to thank everyone at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for welcoming me aboard and making me feel a part of the team.

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 12:07pm

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati 2016 & Parking

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, produced by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and presented by Sam Adams, will celebrate its 40th anniversary, September 16-18 at a bigger, better site on Second and Third Streets, between Elm and Walnut Streets, downtown. 

If you are visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center this weekend (Friday, September 16 - Saturday, September 17), we recommend using the directions included on the GetToOktoberfest webpage to find parking. We have included a map of the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati festival below.

As with any festival, there will be street closures. The following streets will close at 9AM on Friday, September 16 and remain closed until Monday, September 19 at 5AM.

  • Second Street- all exits leading to Second Street from NB75, SB75, EB50 and the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge will be closed.  (Exits from EB50 and the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge will close at 8AM) Second Street will remain closed west of Walnut Street
  • Third Street- closed between Walnut Street and Elm Street
  • Vine Street/Rosa Parks Street- closed between Fourth Street and Freedom Way (Local parking access maintained between Fourth Street and Third Street and between Freedom Way and Second Street
  • Race Street- closed between Fourth Street and Freedom Way (Local parking access maintained between Fourth Street and Third Street and between Freedom Way and Second Street
  • Elm Street- temporarily converted to 2-way traffic between Fourth Street and Second Street which will provide southbound access from Fourth Street to Mehring Way

For a list of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati events & activities, visit http://www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.

Please note: The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is not open on Sunday, September 18. Our regular operating hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11AM- 5PM.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016 - 12:50pm

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Open During Streetcar Weekend, Sunday, Sept. 11

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be open to the public this Sunday, September 11 during the opening weekend of the Cincinnati Bell Connector (aka the Cincinnati Streetcar), offering the public more opportunities to visit throughout the weekend-long schedule of festivities at The Banks and around the city. The museum’s regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. That same weekend, streetcar riders who visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will receive special admission rates—buy one ticket, get one free of equal or lesser value. 

The additional hours will provide families with more opportunities to engage in historical programming, tour permanent exhibitions and experience our new special exhibitions, King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll and the Solitary Confinement Cell Experience, both open now through September 30.

King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll is funded and developed by the Community Building Institute and ArtsWave and part of Cincinnati’s citywide King Records Month celebration. The exhibit is the first installment of a three-part series that will explore King Records’ thirty years as a record company. The Religious Campaign Against Torture’s (NRCAT) Solitary Confinement Cell Experience, presented in partnership with the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, is a part of NRCAT’s nationwide interfaith campaign to expose and end the torture of solitary confinement in prisons, jails and detention centers across the U.S. 

In addition to special exhibitions, visitors can take part in the King Records Roundtable, where historians Randy McNutt, Darren Blasé, Dr. Chris Anderson and King drummer Philip Paul discuss King Records’ first ten years as a company and how the Great Migration impacted their colorblind hiring process in the 1940s. 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 Micheaux Johnson, Public Relations & Social Media Coordinator 

Images: Solitary Confinement Cell Experience, Steve Halper/New York Times.

Related Content: King Records: The Lost History of Rock & RollSolitary Confinement Cell Experience.

More authored by Assia: Here's Why We Should Not Boycott Roots, Freedom Center Open This Memorial Day, May 30,Freedom Center Open Sundays in SummerGift Shop Sale: Mother's Day Gift Ideas and More!, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Announces New CuratorReveal Stories: The 18 Black American Athletes of the 1936 Olympic Games International Human Rights Day: Cincinnati Honors Legacy of Helen Suzman150th 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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 11:50am

In Memoriam of Jerry Gore

Jerry  Gore, a retired  faculty member of  Morehead  State  University and a  lifelong resident  of  Maysville, KY, passed away August  3, 2016, after losing a battle with pneumonia.

Mr.  Gore was a respected  local  historian  who developed  a national  reputation focusing  on the history  of  enslavement and abolition in  the  Maysville Kentucky  Metropolitan Region .

Mr.  Gore was a descendant of Addison White. White fled  enslavement  from  Flemingsburg, Kentucky, only  to  be  discovered  working  on  the  farm  of  Udney Hay Hyde in  Mechanicsburg, OH, more  than  100 miles  North  East of  Flemingsburg . After  a  confrontation  with  slave  catchers  who wanted to  take  Mr. White  back  to  Kentucky, Mr.  White  was  able  to  shoot  his  way  out  of  almost  certain capture.  At least ten White citizens of Mechanicsburg fought a posse that included U.S.  Marshalls, when they  returned  to  Mechanicsburg  the Marshalls were met with  pitchforks and  anything  else the people  could  get  their  hands  on in  an  effort  to  prevent  the  citizens  who assisted  Mr. White’s escape from being arrested. The  running  battle  covered  at  least  three counties, and  several  of the  men  involved  in the  fray  faced  a hearing  in a Federal  Court in Cincinnati, where they were accused  of interfering with  U.S.  Marshalls under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act.

In  July 1857, in  the  US  District  Court  room  of  Judge  Humphery  H.  Levit, a  compromise was reached,  as  the result  of the  men  from  Mechanicsburg, OH agreeing  to  pay  Daniel  White of  Flemingsburg  Ky.  $1,000.00 for Mr. White’s freedom.

Addison  White went to Canada  and  started  a  new  life, however, with the advent of the  Civil  War, he  returned  to America  in  1864 and joined  Company E. of the  Massachusetts 54th US  Colored  Troops.  At  the end  of the  Civil War, Addison  White  returned to  Mechanicsburg, OH where  he found  a permanent job  with  the  village  in  the  street department. Mr.  White lived  the  balance  of  his  life  in  peace  in  Mechanicsburg, where he and  his  wife,  Amanda, are now buried  in Maple  Grove  Cemetery. In  2005,  Mechanicsburg and  the  Ohio State  Historical Office erected a plaque commemorating  his legacy—a man who  fought to be  free  and, in  turn,  fought  to  help  free  those  who  were  still  enslaved. Jerry Gore was  in  the  audience  during  that ceremony, where he acknowledged his family’s  history. Now, both their spirits are free.

Carl B. Westmoreland, senior historian and preservationist  

Sunday, July 31, 2016 - 12:00am

Islamophobia – not in our Community!

Thank you, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, for making the Islamophobia – not in our Community! brochure accessible to the public.  Not since the aftermath of “9/11” have American Muslims as a group faced such unwarranted suspicion and outright bigotry as they have this past year.  They are concerned, and rightly so, for their civil rights and for the safety and well-being of their families.  We, too, should be concerned.  This is not a time for us to sit by and watch our fellow Americans, our Cincinnati neighbors, being scapegoated and maligned as Muslims have been of late.  We need to confront ignorant, prejudiced and hateful rhetoric, wherever it occurs.  

We need to help educate the uninformed and inexperienced.  And, we must insist on honesty, fairness and social responsibility in our public discourse.  For, as history has taught us and the Freedom Center teaches us every day, bigotry in any form, anywhere, when unchallenged, can and will spread like a cancer to more and more victim groups until it reaches a point when no group is left un-implicated and unharmed.   Read this valuable brochure, learn from it, use it, and share it widely.  Then take the initiative to get to know your Muslim neighbors.  You, and they, will be glad you did!

Robert “Chip” Harrod, chief executive officer of BRIDGES                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - 8:53am

Civil Rights Icon Vernon Jordan Returns to Cincinnati

Civil Rights leader and former National Underground Railroad Freedom Center advisory board member Vernon Jordan will be returning to Cincinnati this summer for the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Convention. Jordan is scheduled to be the keynote speaker July 16 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Jordan, now 80, previously served as an advisor to President Bill Clinton.

Vernon Jordan played a big role in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, working with the NAACP in organizing boycotts and expanding membership.  Before long, Jordan’s extraordinary work was noticed and he became director of the Southern Regionals Council’s Education project in 1964, a project that increased the number black voters in the South. In 1971, Jordan became president of the National Urban League.

Harvard University professor and historian of African-American life, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. claims that no one has played a more pivotal role in furthering civil rights in the last half century than Jordan.  Jordan is also a businessman, and at one time served on 10 major corporate boards simultaneously. He holds more than 60 honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the United States. In an interview with Bloomberg, American Express CEO Ken Chenault said that Jordan’s “been able to transform society, go into business, and transform business”   Jordan recalled his emotions during the election of the first African American president, noting that he cried when President Obama was sworn in 2008, "It dawned on me the tears were not my tears. They were the tears of my parents and grandparents. They were the tears of black people that toted cotton and lifted that bale. They were the tears of incredulous belief that a black man had been elected president of the United States.”

The 13-member Ohio Legislative Black Caucus will hold its convention July 15-17 ahead of the NAACP’s national convention downtown.  It will be the first time the convention will be held in Cincinnati since it was founded in 1967.

Trey Melcher

Marketing & Communications intern

Related Content: The Emancipation ProclamationThe Thirteenth Amendment.

Images: Zimbio.com, Depauw.edu

Friday, July 8, 2016 - 12:02pm

Clarence G. Newsome, president, Asks Nation to Come Together in the Midst of This Week’s Violence

Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, calls the nation to come together after three horrific shootings that have deeply affected communities across the country.  

 “The horrible events that our country has witnessed over the past three days in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas have shocked America’s soul.  Our body politic is in need of deep, deep healing.  No free republic can long endure without maturing to the point where all of its citizens live the reality of what freedom requires of us individually.  It requires that each of us live out a shared understanding of what personal freedom means.  Personal freedom is the power to relate and interact with others in ways that safeguard, sustain and enhance life to the optimal degree.  A young nation must grow to see that freedom has no practical meaning for someone living an isolated existence on a deserted island.  It only has meaning to the degree that we relate to one another respectfully, responsibly and accountably.  Regardless of our private or professional roles, the capacity to be self-disciplining and self- governing is the key to personal freedom.  It is also the key to a peaceful and prosperous free society. Just four days ago America celebrated its precious gift of freedom.  It will be in the way that we exercise personal freedom that we will have reason to celebrate in the years ahead.  On this the day following three horrible days in our national life, I am appealing to the heart, mind and spirit of each American to demonstrate to each other and to the world the best of ourselves as a free people.  This day, and the days to come, we the people should commit to nothing less.” – Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

Friday, June 24, 2016 - 3:07pm

Supporting the LGBTQ Community After Pulse

It has been nearly two weeks since the attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando and I have had a very difficult time putting into words exactly how this horrible atrocity has me feeling. Beyond the seething rage that defies description, there is something else.

I don’t feel safe. As Americans, we all feel this to some degree after the latest mass shooting in our country (how disgusting that I can say the words “latest mass shooting” to begin with). But let me be clear about one thing: I have not felt safe since having the realization at an early age that I was different and that my being different could mean violence against me was possible at any moment. 

Before I go on, I would say to my young self in this moment to look to hope and love. I was told something I needed to hear this week and it would have helped me years ago. Darkness owns the sky but we always look to the stars. I would tell him not to be ruled by fear and that the very act of existing in his own skin and being who he is, is an act of quiet revolution. His existence can change the world for another like him in the future and make their path a little easier. It is okay to be afraid, as I am now, this will pass. I absolutely refuse to be ruled by fear.

Waking up that morning and being reminded that there are people in the world who would like to see me meet a similar end was terrifying. The LGBTQ community is incredibly vulnerable here in the United States and even more so abroad.  Disproportionately at risk are people of color and those who identify as transgender. These members of our LGBTQ family often bear the brunt of this violence.


I heard many people over the past week say things like, “this was a club that welcomed everyone,” or “this didn’t directly affect you.” This is erasure. The truth is, this was a gay club. It directly impacts every single LGBTQ person on this planet. Any time an act of violence is committed against us, because of who we are and who we love, it directly effects our sense of safety.


Gay men and those suspected of being gay in Syria, are being hurled from multi-story buildings by ISIS extremists. Here in the U.S. trans students are now at risk of attack from their fellow classmates, (with the administration’s permission) for using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. In Uganda anti-gay laws have incited an increase in violence against us. In Jamaica, LGBTQ people face mob attacks, stabbings, death threats and, in some cases, murder. Throughout the world lesbians are subjected to corrective rape. In Russia LGBTQ pride parades are met with violence and anti-gay groups who place false dating profiles in an effort to kidnap and torture those who respond. All of this is recorded and uploaded to the Internet as a warning to the LGBTQ people of the world. These are just a few examples of the violence that our community faces every day. 



We must press on and, whatever we do, we must not allow this most recent attack to drive a wedge between us, and our similarly marginalized brothers and sisters in the Islamic community. I entreat my LGBTQ family, and anyone reading this post, to not respond to hate with hate and to not judge an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. We are better than that. We live in a climate of fear. We are tired. We are angry. Despite all of this - we must remain strong.

The LGBTQ members of your community are suffering and they need you now more than ever. When you hear a slur, a joke, a derogatory comment, or anti-gay rhetoric, know that it directly contributes to a culture that has allowed this violence against us. To do nothing is to be complicit.

We all have a direct responsibility as human beings to help end hate. It is up to all of us to stand up and speak up. I refuse to sit quietly any longer. I hope you’ll join me.


Jesse Kramer, Art Director

Images: NYDaily News, WSBV-Atlanta

Related Content: The Emancipation ProclamationThe Thirteenth Amendment.