The words from this old Negro Spiritual never were more real than when I recently visited the new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. This state of the art museum chronicles the development of the National Underground Railroad that formed a network of safe houses and the heroic conductors who risked life and family to assist slaves in their journeys to freedom. Even more heroic were the men, women, and children who were willing to die to escape the tyranny of slavery.
The stories are told through modern technology, historic displays, and interactive venues. In several of the interactive video displays you are asked to make decisions that, if wrong, end your dream of freedom and perhaps your life. Oprah Winfrey, in one of the movies created for the Center, tells the magnificent story of the heroism found in early Ripley, Ohio. As a person who really does not enjoy museums, I was shocked to see that I had spent over 2 1/2 hours there. (The joke in the family is that I can tour one of the Smithsonian wings in 30 minutes or less.).
A visit to the Freedom Center is much more than developing awareness of American history and factors that led to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. It causes one to look inward and to reexamine the traditional history taught in many American schools. You are aghast that churches, Congress, the Supreme Court, and over half the nation believed that slavery was not only profitable but ordained by God.
Regrettably, you also realize that similar arguments are used today to oppress and enslave in different ways. As you leave, you have a far better understanding of the spiritual "Let my people go.".To learn more about this fascinating museum, visit its web site at http://www.
freedomcenter.org. Specific driving directions are also provided..Bob Casey is a poet, writer, educator, speaker, and presenter.
He has cycled, hiked, sailed, and traveled to many far off destinations. He also spent a year on a teaching Fulbright in New Zealand. His many interests, include yoga, Tai Chi, skiing, cycling, photography, and wine collecting.
"Poet Bob," as his car license plate declares, is currently president of the Ohio Poetry Association. This position allows him to interact with some of America's best poets. His first book, The Wanderer: A Poetical Journey published in 2002, focused on his around the world trip and the insights gained. His most recent book, Wisdom from the Journey, offers a diverse selection of poems, comments, vignettes, and recommendations complied from the "best" of his monthly e-zine, the Poetical Journal (PJ), which reaches over 13,000 subscribers worldwide. As one reader states, "?In a world of discontent, malice, greed and wars, the Poetical Journal is an oasis to nourish the soul." His next book will be out late in 2006.
To read more of his work or subscribe to the PJ, go to http://www.poeticaljourneys.com.
By: Bob Casey