Monday, August 23, 2004

Celebrities helped make
Freedom Center a reality

Some of the powerhouse celebrities who helped the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center along the way:

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Oprah visits the NURFC
Brandi Stafford/The Enquirer
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Lighting Freedom's Way
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Photo Gallery: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

• Oprah Winfrey, talk show hostess: Donated $1 million through her Oprah Winfrey Foundation. She also narrated the film Brothers of the Borderland, the story of how Ripley, Ohio, residents John Parker and John Rankin helped runaway slaves escape to freedom.

• Vanessa Williams, actress, singer, former Miss America and the Freedom Center's national spokesperson. She has appeared on behalf of the Center in radio and TV spots, as well as making personal appearances to help raise awareness. • Danny Glover, actor: He did voiceovers for The Power of One Voice, the Center's initial round of public service announcements in 2002. The three public service announcements focused on race in America through the eyes of a young white girl on a playground, an African-American teenager in high school and a Hispanic male on a job interview. They were designed to demonstrate that one person can make a difference by standing up to indignities.

They said it
"This is something I have hoped and prayed for. I'm so pleased to see it happening. This is the missing link in our American history for those of us who remember."
- Black Family Reunion founder Dorothy Height

"This is a great day for Cincinnati. There is a lot of our history here, and to have all these people celebrate with us, it's fabulous."
- Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken

"I am really overwhelmed to see such a large group from such a large segment of Cincinnati come together. Everybody wanted to come and be a part of tonight, and I hope they can take a little of tonight away with them. I hope they will look with their eyes and feel with their hearts. If we can do that, then there's a better tomorrow for Cincinnati."
- O'dell Owens

"This is the toughest subject I'll ever have to deal with. I'm gratified that it has been so well received."
- Jack Rouse , whose company designed the center's interior and exhibits

• Angela Bassett, actress: Narrated Suite for Freedom, a series of three animated short films that are the Center's opening experience.

• Bono, front man for the rock group U2: Joined the Freedom Center lineup of supporters while on his AIDS awareness tour. He participated in a community reception and press conference in December of 2002 and spoke about Irish immigrants and newly emancipated slaves in the 1880s.

• Muhammad Ali, boxer: Joined first lady Laura Bush in ceremonial lighting of the eternal Flame of Freedom at the Center's 2002 groundbreaking.

• Quincy Jones, musician/producer: Participated in the 2003 Freedom Conductors Awards ceremony that honored Ethel Kennedy on behalf of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.

Jim Knippenberg

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