Saturday, January 31, 2004

Exhibit to honor individuals


Nominations open for people who perform heroic acts

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The directors of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center are asking for your help to find "Everyday Freedom Heroes'' for what will be a signature exhibit - the "Everyday Hall of Heroes."

The center opens on the Cincinnati waterfront this summer.

Beginning today, Greater Cincinnatians can nominate people who "have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help make this community a better place for all its citizens," said Ernest Britton, center director of external affairs.

Pick up nomination forms at any Greater Cincinnati Kroger store today through March 15. Selections will be made by a Freedom Center committee and announced in May.

The "Everyday Freedom Heroes" exhibit includes a mini-documentary about each person selected.

"There will be thousands of people in the database - from past and present," Britton said.

People like James Gilliland, a white Presbyterian minister who moved to Red Oak in Brown County from North Carolina in 1805 when the synod advised him to stop preaching his anti-slavery views. Through his fiery sermons at a Red Oak church, Gilliland ignited the abolitionist movement that spread in Ohio.

And people like Laquetta Shepard, a 24-year-old African-American woman who singlehandedly ended a Ku Klux Klan rally in Bowling Green, Ky., in 2002. She quietly moved away from fellow protesters to stand tall among a group of Klan supporters who were kneeling in prayer for white supremacy.

As people shouted racial epithets, Shepard stood her ground - with tears streaming down her face - until the rally broke up 40 minutes early and the participants went home.

"We want people from the Underground Railroad (era) to modern day - the famous and people that you've never heard of,'' Britton said. "They don't have to be African-Americans. It's not about ethnicity; it's about courage and perseverance.''

• Information: (513) 412-6900 or go to www.freedomcenter.org.

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E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com




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