Yesterday was my much anticipated trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom in Cincinnati, OH. When I started off organizing this trip about 3 weeks, I had to sale 47 tickets @ 45 dollars each & this proved to be no easy task & I winded up being able to sale 44 which I am counting at as a complete success!This was my 1st attempt at organizing a large coordinated event & although it was a lot of work, I enjoyed the process & was fortunate to have the assistance of Suite Suzy, my new friend Barbara Perkins & “Sheroe” Dahia Shabaka.
The show time for the bus was 7am with a 730am take off & people showed up on time & there were no delays & I was soooooo happy for that. As I served as the “Conductor” for the trip, I planned breakfast snacks, lunch & enroute education materials on the Underground Railroad, the Michigan connection & 2 movies. On the way to the Freedom center, we watched an awesome documentary on the URR tiled Underground Railroad hosted by Alfre Woodard by the History Channel which described the ins & outs of the URR and it beginnings, heroes, challenges etc. When I went to the Freedom Center in April 06, we saw this movie & I had to make sure that “my” group got this information because it was so informative.
We arrived at the Freedom Center abut 12:15pm (15 minutes late) & I ran in to purchase our tickets & meet our tour guide before the group came in. When I stepped into the building I received a huge greeting from the front desk staff, security & the manager of education Valdasia Merrick coordinator and more. They all mentioned that they were eagerly anticipating our arrival for the past few weeks & were really excited about the web site that I did specifically for the trip & even wanted me to meet the Freedom Center’s CEO John E. Pepper (retired Procter & Gamble Company Chairman and CEO), who saw the site & like it. I was totally taken aback by all of this & by then heart was really pumping, this was big for me.
Anyway so I am now back at the bus passing out tickets to my group to enter the Freedom Center & as we entered, we all received very generous welcome by the Freedom Center staff & as a special bonus, I had special packets assembled by the Freedom Center for all of my educators on the trip (about 15) & boy was this an added bonus. So now that all of the formalities are out of the way, we were introduced to our tour guide author L.D. “Doug” Ervin. Donna L. Marshall-Thomas (Group Reservations Guru) informed that Carl Westmoreland would not be available because of a speaking engagement so she lined up Doug because he could bring it just as good as Carl. Based on this, my expectations were high & I will tell you, all of my expectations were surpassed by 10 times.
Doug not only guided us through the Freedom Center giving us the history on each very significant piece, he gave us an additional history lesson & backed everything up as he went along. It was truly a living class room! It seemed as if Doug’s mind was back with almost every Slavery, URR, and African fact you can put your mind on. Doug is one BAD Brotha. When we started off the tour, Doug had some slave shackles that he demonstrated how the slaves wore them on & off the Beast (slave ship) & soon after I winded up carting the shackles for most of the tour & shit they heavy. I could not image having to walk for miles in those chains around my feet & hands; it’s hard to wrap my mind around how our ancestors endured these & worst conditions.
As the more than informative winded down, we had a facilitated dialogue session with Mildred who happens to be a dynamic dialogue facilitator at the freedom center. I worked with Mildred before on my last trip to the Freedom Center so I knew this session would have high value! The session proved to be very powerful, emotional, open, & honest as many discussed their feelings on what they saw, learned & felt as we moved through the Center. It’s now 5pm & we still did not get a chance to see 1 exhibit & 2 films, which is a great reason to go back, time for the gift shop. The tine budget was running short. After the Freedom Center we headed or Newport on the Levee which is a mall/shopping district across the Ohio in Newport KY for dinner & we have 1½ hrs. by this time I am extremely hungry & tired & settle for some Italian @ Brio’s Tuscan Cuisine (I highly recommend) with friends, then it was time to get back on the bus.
For the trip home I had one more movie titled “500 Years Later” to show to keep the theme of the day going. 500 years later is a documentary by M.K. Asante Jr. & it deals with the African Diaspora & the global impact the slavery has on Blacks. I was fortunate enough to see this film in Feb 06 & meet the writer himself to discuss the impact of the film.
The film is described on the slave as Crime, poor education, poverty, self-hatred, prison system; broken homes plague people of African decent globally – Why? Filmed in over twenty countries and on five continents, 500 Years Later is a compelling journey, infused with the spirit and music of liberation, that chronicles the struggle of a people from enslavement who continue to fight for the most essential human right – freedom.
After the film ended all I heard were strong cheers & hand claps etc; with that said, my goal was met!
I wanted this film to have the same impact on my group as it did with me. Hopefully, they will support the film & purchase a copy (and you too). It’s now 9pm & we have 2 hours to go until we arrive back in Detroit, I’m mentally & physically exhausted, excited about my success & looking forward to a shower & nightcap.’
- If you are in America & especially Black, you owe it to yourself to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
- If you are not in America & especially Black, you owe it to yourself to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
- Take a group of people to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center & request for Doug to be your tour guide
- See AND Purchase 500 Years Later
- Seek information on your history & use it to empower yourself & use the some information to be able to give our children self determination
- Support Black/Black oriented establishments & keep them alive
- Keep reading my Blog & tell 3 friends (be sure to read my Ghetto Disclaimer 1st)