The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center-Cincinnati, Ohio
On a weeklong visit to Cincinnati just before Christmas we had the pleasure of discovering the Freedom Center. It is a magnificant and imposing structure located between the football and baseball stadiums along the Ohio River which during the era of the “Infernal Institution” of slavery was called by the enslaved as the River Jordan in remembrance of the biblical reference as the border of salvation.
The Center is a tribute to the desire and sacrifice of all men for personal freedom. It tells the parallel stories, in one theater, of Solomon Northrup of Twelve Years A Slave movie fame and a very recent man from Thailand who was sold into modern day slavery until rescued. The desire to be free to somehow govern ones own personal destiny is the core message of the Center.
Although we spent the better part of a day at the Center, I still was not able to read and absorb all the spectacular historical displays. I am so pumped about this memorial and surprised that I was not aware of its existance considering how broad my knowledge of the Civil War and its causes.
I had an impromptu opportuntunity to chat all to briefly with Mr. Carl B. Westmoreland, the Senior Historian at the Center, who is a delightful man and clearly dedicated to telling this important story. He is a decendent of Westmoreland Virginia slaves and is rightfully proud of his heritage. Now on the surface many would say that a slave herritage is not something to be celebrated, but, I have come to the same conclusion as Mr Westmoreland that it truly is. Shamefully these people were badly, nay horribly treated in the basic sense that they were considered chattel, mere positions to be used up just as a tool or farm animal. But isn’t it time for them as well as all of us caucasians to celebrate there contributions to this great nation. The United States would not be what it is today had these enslaved not labored on our roads, canals, structures and agricultural institutions. We rarely hear any thought as to the great results they achieved in building railroads, roads, bridges etc by the force of their muscles and little else. We owe a debt to the enslaved and they should be justifiably proud of the accomplishments of there forebearers.
If you have the opportunity to visit the Freedom Center it is a well deserved investiment that will pay dividends.