Friday, April 06, 2001

Freedom Center growing


Network of 'Stations' nationwide planned to share resources

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Freedom Center officials will announce today a program connecting the stories of the Underground Railroad in a nationwide network.

        The Freedom Stations program — now in nine cities including Highland Heights — will use social service agencies, research libraries and other organizations as affiliates to bring the resources of the Underground Railroad to people across the country.

        “This partnership brings us one step closer to full coast-to-coast accessibility to the vast, hidden resources of the Underground Railroad,” said Ed Rigaud, Freedom Center president and CEO.

        Other affiliates now in the program are in New York; Philadelphia; New Haven, Conn.; Mystic, Conn.; Lawrence, Kan.; Los Angeles; Seattle; and Wilberforce, Ohio.

        In Highland Heights, Northern Kentucky University will be the affiliate because the Institute for Freedom Studies is doing research there.

        Each site in the 50-state plan will be autonomous and responsible for its own programming and fund raising, but still connected to the Freedom Center.

        “It was a network of people,” Orloff Miller, director of the Freedom Station program, said of the Underground Railroad. “It was never the buildings, the sites. At this remove, it's easy to focus on the site.

        “(But) what's more critical to us is your great-grandfather('s) ... story that was passed down. Who did they know? What did they learn along the way?

        “What was the stop before and after the one that people know now?”

        A regional conference, “The Borderlands: The Underground Railroad in the Middle Ohio River Valley,” is May 18-19 at NKU.

        It focuses on research in the Ohio River counties between Marietta, Ohio, and Evansville, Ind.

        A volume will be published from that conference in the first of a nationwide series of studies.

        For more information, see the Freedom Center's Web site at www.undergroundrailroad.com.

       



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