The Road to Freedom
If you haven’t been to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, you are missing out. The Freedom Center is a great place to explore and learn about the history of slavery, the Underground Railroad, the abolition of slavery, and the civil rights movement. Even the location of the Freedom Center is symbolic, located in downtown Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River, where slaves crossed to escape to freedom.
The museum is animated and inspiring with several exhibits that penetrate through you and open your eyes to new experiences. I admit it, though, it is tough facing the faces of my ancestors, and acknowledging the awful experiences African-Americans endured. Yet, the Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a place for people of all races to understand the good and the bad… the triumphs and the hardships.
For example, the exhibits, The Slave Pen and Escape! both offer glimpses into the life and times of slavery. The Slave Pen is an actual holding pen used to imprison slaves before moving them for auction. Escape! is an interactive exhibit that uses storytelling, role-playing and hands-on activities to portray the journey of the Underground Railroad.
The Brothers of the Borderland is an experiential theater exhibit where guests enjoy a 25-minute film with fog rising in the background, and outside noises–chirping crickets–that provide the realistic experience of the historical figure, John Parker, and his daring flight to freedom.
The National Underground Freedom Center will catch you off guard. You enter expecting an educational experience, but in the amazement of the stories you hear, the artifacts you encounter and the exhibits you experience, you leave encouraged by the perseverance of our ancestors, and with a renewed hope for the future. After all, if you don’t know where you came from, where will you go?
The center is located at 50 E. Freedom Way in downtown Cincinnati. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last ticket sold at 4 p.m.) Visit https://www.freedomcenter.org/.