Sunday, June 13, 2004

Freedom center: What is it?

The Cincinnati Enquirer asked 50 people walking by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to answer the question: What is it? Seven of 10 people knew the center will tell the story of the informal network of abolitionists and free men who helped thousands of American slaves escape to freedom. Still, more than half said they have heard very little about the center, and one in five had no idea what will be inside.

Here's a sampling:

What is it?

"The history of Cincinnati and the role it played in the Underground Railroad. Also, it's a monument to the efforts of freedom around the world."

What do you expect to see?

"A timeline of acts and a slavery cabin."

Other thoughts?

"I think it's built in the wrong spot. It should have been at the museum terminal ... I think there'll be a honeymoon period, but it will slowly lose people's interest.''

Tom Sowards, 45, Price Hill


What is it?

"To me, it's an important symbol that can educate people. By this important historical symbol, we can use it as a springboard for healing. I look forward to visiting it. We need to talk to each other and learn.''

- Mark Schleiss, 45, Anderson Township


What do you expect to see inside?

"I'm not quite sure, but in two to three years, there'll be a hotel there. I hope it makes money, but I doubt it will.''

- Jim Walton, 38, Milford


What do you expect to see?

"I've never heard of it. Is it just about slavery? Nobody wants to see that slavery stuff."

- Ladon Spencer, 27, downtown


"The history of the Underground Railroad, starting with Ripley, Ohio, all the way through the stations of freedom. Ohio has a lot of Underground Railroad stations. My son went on a school trip to the Rankin House in Ripley, one of the stations on the Underground Railroad."

- Lennie Payne, 39, Sardinia


"It is a historical landmark that's more or less to give people the opportunity to understand the Underground Railroad."

Do you plan to visit?


- Donald Lindsey, 66, Mount Healthy


What do you expect to see?

"Different exhibits and scenes of the struggles for freedom. I'll be leaving for the Navy in August, so I probably won't (visit.) It's a beautiful building."

- Jermain Graham, 30


Roger: "When I went into the service, everything was still segregated. This museum is important."

Anna: "They should've had this 50 years ago."

- Roger Bach, 73; Anna Bach, 64


Have you heard much about it?


Other thoughts?

"It's not even underground."

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