National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Dedicated in Cincinnati
Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, Sen. Mike DeWine, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Congressman Rob Portman joined a broad range of leaders from the entertainment, academic, government and business communities who participated in the grand opening dedication of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Aug. 23.
Aug. 23 is the International Day for the Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery, as declared by the United Nations. The date was chosen to honor and highlight the Freedom Center’s focus on historical and contemporary issues of freedom and slavery.
“We are thrilled to have such strong support locally and nationally from individuals and organizations coming together to dedicate the nation’s newest monument to freedom,” said Dr. Spencer Crew, Freedom Center Executive Director & CEO.
“Their participation is a powerful testament to the witness and hope offered by the Underground Railroad and the value and impact of the Freedom Center experience.”
Festivities began with a special fund-raising dinner to supporter-donors, scholars, government officials, celebrities and friends. The event was chaired by Freedom Center board members Melody Sawyer Richardson and Dr. O’Dell Owens. The 1,300-person event was sold-out.
Special guests at the dinner included sports greats Oscar Robertson and Lynn Swann; television personalities Robin Roberts (ABC) and Harry Smith (CBS); Bard Martin, CEO of Saks Inc. and Clarence Avant, (ret.) CEO of Motown Records; Underground Railroad scholars Dr. David Blight and Dr. James Horton; human rights activists poet Nikki Giovanni and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young; Tony award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, pop artists Bono and Lionel Richie, as well as actors Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance, and others.
The evening included a special salute to John E. Pepper, former chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble Co., philanthropist and co-chair of the Freedom Center’s $110 million capital campaign; AG Lafley, chairman of the board, president and chief executive, Procter & Gamble Co.; and Robert Johnson, founder and CEO, Black Entertainment Television (BET). The presentation included the formal naming of the Freedom Center’s three pavilions: Courage, Cooperation and Perseverance.
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