Freedom Center Voices

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 12:26pm

OH Human Trafficking Task Force makes recommendations

Ohio plans to further improve services for victims of trafficking, the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force announced in a report on Monday, July 20.

At the top of the priority list: faster access for victims to recovery services like shelters or drug treatments.

The report also outlines plans to increase public awareness and police access to information about tracking human trafficking, as well as a legal path for victims to have their records expunged of charges that came about as a result of being forced into the sex trade.

“Ohio’s progress in combating trafficking is both exciting and sobering,” wrote Ohio’s Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Elizabeth Ranade Janis in the introduction to the report. “More victims have access to justice and more offenders are being punished... However these efforts confirm what advocates already know—more victims will come out of the shadows of exploitation, more intensive law enforcement investigations will be necessary to lock up traffickers, and more trauma-informed care will need to be made available for survivors.”

The recommendations will be implemented by state-level and county-level departments and officials, like the Department of Medicaid, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Job and Family Services.

Three years ago, the task force made 26 other recommendations, almost all of which have been put into place by now. For example, in 2012 the state penalty for human trafficking was upgraded to a first-degree felony, which can come with up to 15 years in prison.

The report estimates roughly one thousand children – mostly young girls between 13 and 18 years of age – are forced into sex trafficking in Ohio each year. Other victims might be forced into sweatshop-like jobs.

Join the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center this Thursday at 3 p.m. for a gallery talk on modern-day human trafficking with representatives from End Slavery Now.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Related Content:  Invisible: Slavery Today

More authored by Elizabeth: Mason man recalls Tiananmen SquareDr. Newsome speaks at international conference in ParisWarren County Underground Railroad station honored with historical markerNHL selects first Chinese player14th Amendment Ratified on this Day, 1868, Former Auschwitz guard sentenced, Honor Nelson Mandela this Sat with 67 min of service

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 2:06pm

#FlameFriday: Toni Stone

On this day, July 17, 1921, batter Toni “tomboy” Stone, was born in Saint Paul Minnesota.  Stone was the first of three women to play professionally in the Negro Baseball Leagues.  As a child, Stone loved to play ball, but her parents did not approve of her behavior. They tried to solve the problem by having the local priest talk her out of liking baseball. However, by the end of their conversation, Father Keith had asked Stone to play on his team in the Catholic Midget League.

By age 15, Stone was working her way to earning a reputation as a very talented female baseball player. She started playing with the Twin City Colored Giants, a traveling men’s baseball club, and played for clubs competing in the men’s meat packing league. During the 1940s, Stone moved to San Francisco and shortly after started playing with an American Legion club. In 1949, she joined the San Francisco Sea Lions, a Minor League Negro Team and then played for the New Orleans Creole’s for a couple years as well. Playing for these teams gave her exposure to high profile managers and team owners.

In 1953, Stone’s talent finally paid off and she signed with the Indianapolis Clowns. She was brought onto the team to bring more fans to the games, but she worked hard to show she was there for more than that. Stone appeared in 50 games that year and got a hit off the legendary pitcher, Satchel Paige. She also had the chance to play with some excellent young players, including Willie Mays and Ernie Banks.

Stone’s time with the Clowns was brief, and playing as a woman was not always easy. She was insulted by fans and sometimes even teammates, who refused to accept that a female was competing in a “men’s” game. Her opponents showed her little respect as well, often coming hard at her on a slide with their spikes pointed up. After the Clowns, Stone was traded to the Kansas City Monarchs, but due to her age she was unable to play much longer. At the end of the year she retired from baseball, leaving behind an unforgettable history.

You can learn more about Toni Stone and many more game changers in baseball at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Diversity in Baseball, open now.


-Katie Johnstone
Marketing and Communications Intern

1. Toni Stone becomes the first female on an all-male baseball team. Credit: Big Head Books
2. Toni Stone shaking hands with legendary boxer Joe Lewis. Credit: Minnesota Historical Society
3. A record of the Indianapolis Clowns roster. Credit: Library of Congress
4. Toni Stone playing ball for the Creoles. Credit: Public Domain

More authored by Katie: Planning your visit Friday, July 10Misty Copland- First African-American woman promoted at the American Ballet Theatre#FlameFriday: Remembering Officer Kim, and Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign



Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 11:28am

Honor Nelson Mandela this Sat with 67 min of service

This Saturday, July 18, the United Nations and the Nelson Mandela Foundation honor the equal rights activist Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) during Nelson Mandela International Day.

In 1991, Mandela became the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa after working for decades toward an end to the injustices and inequalities perpetuated by apartheid (1948-1991), a set of laws that segregated the majority nonwhite South Africans from their white counterparts.

He is also known for being a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience and an international peacemaker. He helped found the Youth League of the African National Congress in 1944 and in 1994 jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”

Mandela’s tireless work and many sacrifices in the pursuit of freedom and equality for all in South Africa have been inspirational to generations of activists. Take the time this Saturday to honor the call of Nelson Mandela International Day to dedicate 67 minutes of time to helping others in the same way Mandela served humanity for 67 years.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Photo: Nelson Mandela smiles in front of the South African flag. (Source: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/viewers-guide-to-mandelas-funeral-an...)

Related Content:  Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later

More authored by Elizabeth: Mason man recalls Tiananmen SquareDr. Newsome speaks at international conference in ParisWarren County Underground Railroad station honored with historical markerNHL selects first Chinese player14th Amendment Ratified on this Day, 1868

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 10:50am

Former Auschwitz guard sentenced

This Wednesday, July 15, former Auschwitz guard Oskar Gröning was sentenced to four years in prison for being an accessory to the deaths of 300,000 people in “what could be one of the last big Holocaust trials.” The 94-year-old German has been on trial in the northern German city of Lüneburg since April.

The death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Nazi-occupied Poland claimed the lives of 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, during its operation from 1942 to 1945. Gröning’s trial focused mostly on the period from May to July 1944, during which 137 trains brought 425,000 people to Auschwitz and at least 300,000 were killed in the gas chambers.

During the trial proceedings, Gröning testified that he sorted through the belongings of arriving Jews after they went through the selection process that ended with many being sent to their deaths in the gas chambers. His task was to find valuables, particularly banknotes, to help fund the Nazi regime.

The trial speaks to a question that courts have grappled with since the end of the Second World War: how much guilt the legal system can place on people who acted as small cogs within massive human rights violations like the Holocaust. In 2011, German courts set a precedent that death camp guards can be charged as an accessory to murders committed there, even if that guard is not linked to any specific death. Gröning said he accepts moral guilt but said early on in the trial that he would leave it up to the court to decide his legal guilt.

Earlier this year, the Freedom Center hosted Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later, which featured the stories of two survivors of the death camp: Werner Coppel and Bella Ouziel. Auschwitz’s history of systemic and organized genocide provides a start warning and call to action for those today to stand up against injustice, inhumanity and genocide.

Elizabeth Cychosz 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Related Content:  Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later

More authored by Elizabeth: Mason man recalls Tiananmen SquareDr. Newsome speaks at international conference in ParisWarren County Underground Railroad station honored with historical markerNHL selects first Chinese player, 14th Amendment Ratified on this Day, 1868


Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 9:47am

14th Amendment Ratified on this Day, 1868

On July 9, 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting citizenship and its benefits to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” – a right that was previously denied to formerly enslaved persons.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment ended slavery, at the end of the Civil War people still had a lot of questions about what would happen to those who only recently gained their freedom. Along with the 13th and 15th Amendments – collectively known as the “Reconstruction Amendments” – the 14th Amendment widely expanded the rights of former slaves in the United States.

The authors of the amendment took care to ensure that those civil rights would remain protected, forbidding states from denying anyone “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or the “equal protection of the laws.”

Commonly referenced by that second phrase, the 14th Amendment has played a key role in many important Supreme Court cases that have shaped the past two centuries.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954), for example, struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine – which structured the Jim Crow south – because it violated the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment. Based on cases against segregated schools in Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware, Brown challenged the widely enforced Jim Crow laws that, here, limited black children’s access to the same quality education that their white peers experienced. The court ruled that, even if the schools had access to the same tangible factors (like pencils, science lab equipment, or teachers), the act of separation itself was an act of discrimination that violated the 14th Amendment.

The amendment was a milestone in the history of abolition and civil rights in the United States and has continued to protect people from discrimination throughout the decades. Because of the 14th Amendment, our Constitution upholds the idea that “all” – not just white males – “are created equal”. Learn more about the 14th amendment in From Slavery to Freedom, located on the third floor. 

Elizabeth Cychosz
Marketing and Communications Intern

Photo: Freedom Center exhibit From Slavery to Freedom explores the 14th Amendment in its historical context.

Related Content: The Emancipation Proclamation 

More authored by Elizabeth: Mason man recalls Tiananmen SquareDr. Newsome speaks at international conference in ParisWarren County Underground Railroad station honored with historical marker, NHL selects first Chinese player

Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 9:24am

Planning Your Visit Friday, July 10

This Friday, July 10, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be closing early due to a private event. The museum will open at 11am, but will close early at 3 pm.  All exhibits will remain open to the public and the daily experience activities will continue as scheduled:

11:00am-2:30pm: Family/Youth programs- Create your own baseball cap.
11:00am-4:00pm: Discovery Your Family Roots: Genealogy
11:30am: Stories by the Mound- Baseball Saved Us
11:00am-12:00pm: Highlights Tour
1:00pm: Historical Re-enactor
1:30pm: Stories by the Mound- I am Jackie Robinson
2:30pm: Historical Re-enactor

For more details about each event please see the calendar.  

Katie Johnstone
Marketing and Communications Intern

More authored by Katie: Misty Copland- First African-American woman promoted at the American Ballet Theatre, #FlameFriday: Remembering Officer Kim, and Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign




Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 12:00am

NHL selects first Chinese player

Andong “Misha” Song, 18, made history last week as the first Chinese player in the National Hockey League after being selected by the New York Islanders with the No. 172 pick on Saturday, June 27. One sports official suggested Song might become “the Yao Ming of Chinese ice hockey.”

The Beijing native has been playing since he was 6 years old, when his mother suggested he try it. He fell in love with it, and his talent was spotted at a young age. His family moved to Canada to help him pursue his dream, as there were few resources for hockey players in China at the time, where some coaches were skeptical at first about a Chinese player.

Since then, Song has starred in games locally and internationally. He currently plays as a defenseman for the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, and next season he will play for the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. For the past two years, he has played for China at the IIHF Division II-B World Under-18 Championship, this year as the team captain.

Ice hockey is a young but already popular sport in China, where 1,500 players play on nearly 100 youth teams in Beijing alone. Parents of these young players have expressed hope that Song’s achievements will boost the popularity of hockey further and that he will be an inspiration for future players. Sports officials hope that the NHL draft will help with China’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

"Hopefully what I want to do is rally people behind me,” Song said in an interview with the NHL. “Not focus on myself but do something good for Chinese hockey."

Elizabeth Cychosz
Marketing and Communications Intern

Photo: Song poses after being drafted by the New York Islanders. Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Related Content: Diversity in Baseball

More authored by Elizabeth: Mason man recalls Tiananmen SquareDr. Newsome speaks at international conference in ParisWarren County Underground Railroad station honored with historical marker

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - 1:20pm

Misty Copland- First African-American woman promoted at the American Ballet Theatre

Misty Copland, 32, has become the first African-American female to be promoted to the highest rank at the American Ballet Theatre. She is a 19-year veteran of the company, being promoted from a soloist to a principal dancer. The company has been around for 75 years, making this a huge accomplishment for Copeland. 

Copeland was born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California. She began ballet at the age of 13 and studied at the Lauridsen Ballet Centre, San Francisco Ballet School and American Balley Theatre’s Summer Intensive. Copeland joined the American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001 and was appointed a soloist in August 2007.

In the past year, Copeland has danced a variety of leading roles. Her performances have become events, drawing in large and diverse crowds. She has performed at many prestigious venues including, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Recently she starred in “Swan Lake,” becoming the first African-American to do so with the Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House.  

Copeland has also drawn attention outside the world of ballet, appearing in and being the face of national campaigns, including a commercial for Diet Dr. Pepper and Prince’s 2010 tour. In 2014 she became the first ballet dancer to appear in an Under Armour ad, which had more than four million views on YouTube in a week. Last year, Copland was named of one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and was featured on one of the covers for the issue.

Though her promotion and recent fame has been celebrated by many, it has also raised questions about why African-American dancers, mainly women, remain so underrepresented at top ballet companies in today’s society. Several dance companies and schools, including the Ballet Theater, have begun new efforts to increase diversity in classic ballet, however doing so will take years.

Copeland strength, talent and determination has opened doors for many women of color to follow in her footsteps. In additional to her many accomplishments, she has become involved in the American Ballet Theatre’s Project Plié, an initiative to draw more diverse dancers into elite ballet.

Katie Johnstone
Marketing and Communications Intern

More authored by Katie: Planning your visit Friday, July 10#FlameFriday: Remembering Officer Kim, andFreedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign.

Image: Misty Copeland performing in "Swan Lake" at the Metropolitan Opera House. Photo credit: eurweb.com.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - 11:25am

The Cincinnati Cobra mural

Artworks, a non-profit arts organization, is celebrating their 100th mural since their program began in 2007. Several murals have been painted throughout the summer, but the 100th mural was specifically dedicated to honor the late Ezzard Charles. Charles was a World Heavyweight champion, inductee of the International Boxing Hall, a jazz musician and a Cincinnati native that was widely respected. Christine Carli, the director of communications at Artworks, said that Charles was chosen because of his “rich history in sports and Cincinnati and because he has so many ties to so many famous Cincinnatians, including Theodore Berry.”

The mural is located on 1537 Republic Street and painting began in June. The mural is to be completed sometime this month and there will be a celebration for its dedication. The mural will be titled, The Cincinnati Cobra and will be a part of the Cincinnati Legends murals. 

The lead artist working on the Charles mural will be Jason Snell from the design house, We have Become Vikings. Last year he designed the Cincinnati Legends mural that was dedicated to Henry Holtgrewe.  The Charles mural will look more figurative and less illustrative compared to the Holtgrewe mural, which can be seen on Vine between 13th and 14th street.  

If you are interested in learning more about Artworks murals you can participate in their weekend walking tours. They are led by Artworks volunteers and young Apprentice mural painters. The tours are meant to educate and entertain by sharing the inside stories on how the large-scale murals came to life. Tickets can be purchased on Artworks website.   

Katie Johnstone 
Marketing and Communications Intern

Image: A preview of what The Cincinnati Cobra mural will look like. Photo credit: cincinnati.com.

Friday, June 26, 2015 - 10:12am

#FlameFriday: Remembering Officer Kim

Today we honor local hero and Cincinnati Police Officer, Sonny Kim. On the morning of Friday, June 19, Officer Kim, responded to a 911 call, when he was fatally shot by Trepierre Hummons who later died at the hospital.

Kim was a dedicated public servant, faithfully serving the city of Cincinnati for 27 years. Throughout his career as an officer, Kim earned 22 commendations and was praised in 2012 by the U.S. department of Justice for his service. He left behind a wife and three children, who the city has deeply showed their support for.

Yesterday, thousands from around the region paid their respects to Kim and his family during a public visitation held at the Cintas Center at Xavier University. Officer Kim's funeral service will be held at the Cintas Center this morning at 11 am. The general public is welcome to attend and will be asked to sit in the “bowl area,” where fans sit for Xavier sporting events. Doors will open at 9 am and those in attendance should be seated by 10 am. The funeral is expected to last a little over an hour. His funeral will be live streamed at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center beginning at 11 am for those who wish to gather and watch there.

After the funeral, there will be a 14-mile motorcycle procession to the Gate of Heaven Cemetery. The public is encouraged to line the procession along Montgomery Road from Cleneay Avenue to the cemetery. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is asking everyone to wear blue on Friday to remember Officer Kim and to show support for law enforcement. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and the City of Cincinnati.

Katie Johnston
Marketing and Communications intern

Image: Officer Kim was a martial arts expert and chief instructor at the Karate-Do center in Cincinnati. Photo credit: cincinnati.com. 

More authored by Katie, Freedmen's Bureau Indexing Campaign