On a recent visit to Cincinnati, we took the time to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Center walks you through the history of slavery in America, the Underground Railroad and up to the current issues of sex trafficking, labor laws and slavery around the world. You are given the opportunity to celebrate the heroes all throughout history who have stood up against injustice and learn about the ways our nation has grown.
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National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The Freedom Center is divided into individual exhibits and areas on three floors. When you first arrive and purchase your ticket, you can visit the bookstore, research areas and of course use the restrooms before you begin your tour.
You take the elevator or stairs to the third floor to begin your tour. The first exhibit we toured was called Invisible: Slavery Today and reminds us that slavery in many forms continues to exist in the world around us. People around the world are still suffering from tyranny and loss of human rights.
This exhibit explores six conditions or circumstances – which we call “unfreedoms” – that prevent people from achieving freedom and protect basic human rights. These unfreedoms are hunger, illiteracy, slavery, racism, tyranny and genocide.
This exhibit may not be appropriate for young children but you can easily have them bypass this exhibit if you are concerned.
From Slavery to Freedom
From Slavery to Freedom takes you on a journey through three centuries of slavery from its introduction into the Americas to its abolition at the end of the American Civil War.
There are multi-media exhibits as well as displays helping each visitor learn and understand more about the actions that occurred during this time. The exhibit describes who the enslaved were, why they were brought here, how they lived, how they were treated, and also who their allies were – and how ultimately they became free!
We are always looking for personal ways to connect the dots of history when we visit museums and historic landmarks. We had the opportunity to see the town and home where Susan B Anthony lived in Rochester, New York a few years ago and now here in Cincinnati we learned again how Susan B Anthony devoted her life to abolition, temperance and women’s suffrage..
When you are ready to move to the 2nd floor, take a few minutes to enjoy the overlook out on the patio.
The Slave Pen
The Slave Pen, built in the early 1800’s, was recovered from a farm in Mason County, Kentucky, less than 60 miles from the Freedom Center. The structure was used as a holding pen by Kentucky slave trader, Capt. John W. Anderson, to temporarily keep enslaved people being moved farther south for sale. The slave pen played an integral role in the greater story of the internal slave trade in America.
The Rosa Parks Experience
What do you know about Rosa Parks? Can you imagine how it felt for Rosa to stay in her seat when it was demanded that she move to the back of the bus? Take a few minutes and put on the 3D virtual reality glasses and see for yourself how it felt to sit on the bus. The virtual experience was created to teach a new generation about the Civil Rights Movement from the first person perspective. Purchase your add on ticket at the main desk when you arrive.
Things to Know:
- There is no easy place to park when you visit the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. We found a parking garage about 4 blocks away and walked over to the main entrance. There is limited street parking that you may be able to find as well as several parking garages nearby. My advice is do a front door drop off for anyone who has trouble walking and then drive around to look for a parking spot.
- The Freedom Center is handicap accessible and stroller friendly.
- Allow 2-3 hours to get through the exhibits quickly, but if you plan to read all the signs and experience each of the short video clips, you will need more time.
- When you finish your tour of the Freedom Center, take some time to enjoy the downtown Cincinnati area across the street.
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Find the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
50 East Freedom Way
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is an eye opening look at the history of slavery and how there is still injustice happening in the world around us. We appreciated the opportunity to continue the conversations with our children that we experience when we travel.
Have you ever visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center? Is this on your list of places you want to experience?
Looking for more places to explore history in southern Ohio? Check out the Grant Birthplace and Boyhood Homes less than an hour away!