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Freedom Center celebrates Black History Month with series of programs

MEDIA CONTACT: Cody Hefner (513) 608-5777,


Partnerships with CSO, Miami University, NKU and Heinz History Center examine the Black experience in America

CINCINNATI – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is celebrating Black History Month by hosting and partnering on a series of virtual discussions to enlighten guests on the Black experience in America. The online programming is supplemented by online resources and is presented free of charge.

Let’s Talk: You Have the Right to Remain Silent
February 6

Chris Miller, senior director of education and community engagement for the Freedom Center, sits down with acclaimed composer Anthony Davis and accomplished clarinetist Anthony McGill to discuss the musical piece You Have the Right to Remain Silent. The moving piece derives its inspiration from the Miranda Rights as McGill is interrogated by the orchestra while the orchestra utters “you have the right to remain silent.” The powerful discussion on expression and the importance of having a voice will be released on the Freedom Center’s YouTube channel February 6. Presented in collaboration with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The Reemergence of Protests and Marches in America
February 8, Noon

Congressman John Lewis suggested that activists need to “get into good trouble.” The civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter movement converged in force in 2020. What should be the response to all Americans? A panel discusses what we need to do as a nation in order to make America just and fair and how we should articulate those demands.

Presented in partnership with Miami University, panelists include Chris Miller, senior director of education and community engagement for the Freedom Center; Dr. Anthony James, interim vice president of institutional diversity at Miami University; and Earl Levison of 100 Black Men of America. Presented via Zoom. Click here to register.

The Bonds of Family and Legacy
February 11, 6 p.m.

Presented in partnership with the African American Program of the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, The Bonds of Family and Legacy touches on 2021’s Black History Month theme of “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” The Black family has been a topic of study in many disciplines from history and literature to social policy and the culinary arts. It knows no single location and family reunions and ancestry searches testify to the spread of family members across states, nations and continents. Some have described the role of the Black family as a microcosm of the entire race. Its complexity as a foundation of African American life and history can be seen in numerous debates over how to represent its meaning historically. Without a doubt, the Black family provides a rich tapestry of images for exploring the Black realities of the past and present in America.

Panelists include Christin Haynes, founder of Black Family Scholar; Dr. Jessica Harris, award-winning journalist and African Diaspora foodways expert; and Dr. Eric Jackson, professor of history and director of Black World Studies at Northern Kentucky University. Presented live via Zoom. Click here to register.

The Black Family and Generational Health
February 20, 11 a.m.

The Black family has been traumatized for generations, from enslavement to modern day incidents of police violence. In this online panel discussion, youth find a space to explore how racial trauma affects the Black family unit, bleeding across generations. Led by Dr. Dwonna Thompson, a licensed therapist, youth have the opportunity to ask questions and learn how to heal and cope through traumatic experiences and extreme social circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic and social injustice. At the same time, the discussion will break through the stigma of mental health counseling.

Dr. Thompson holds degrees in psychology and counseling psychology and is currently a doctor of psychology at Adler University. Presented live via Zoom. Click here to register.

The Freedom Center has several online learning resources available at with two more to be released on February 6 for Black History Month. One lesson plan for grades 5+ presents Kwame Alexander’s illustrated poem The Undefeated, which reflects on the history of the US, tracing the trauma and triumphs from enslavement to the Civil Rights movement to Black Lives Matter. It also introduces readers to unforgettable, unafraid, famous and overlooked figures from Black history. A lesson plan for grades 3-5 introduces students to Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History.” Through a children’s storybook format, students learn about Woodson, who read the newspaper to his father – who never learned to read – and became inspired to tell the stories of other Black Americans.

Guests are always encouraged to visit the permanent exhibits at the Freedom Center, which provide a history of the Black experience in America, from chattel slavery through emancipation. The museum shares the stories of those who braved the perils and the unknowns of the Underground Railroad in hopes of liberating themselves. Through the courage, cooperation and perseverance of those self-liberating via the Underground Railroad and those who helped along the way, guests will be inspired to forge the path toward a more equitable nation.

Those who are looking to make a lasting impact during Black History Month are encouraged to donate to the Freedom Center’s #Give365 campaign, which asks people to celebrate Black History Month all year, not just during the month of February. Those who wish to donate to the Freedom Center’s mission of sharing the stories of freedom’s heroes and achieving inclusive freedom for all can do so at

A celebration of Black culture in America was first formalized in 1926 by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The initial celebration spanned just a single week in February, coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. President Gerald Ford called for the nation to observe Black History Week in 1975, which was expanded to a full month by the ASALH in 1976. The month-long celebration we know today was formally established by Congress in 1986.

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