Cincinnati Underground Railroad

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Opened in 2004, the National Underground Railroad Center hugs the Ohio River, the great natural barrier that separated the slave states of the South from the free states of the North. Cincinnati played its role in the antislavery movement, when in the 1830s the Reverend Lyman Beecher was persuaded to come to the city to head Lane Theological Seminary. Although he initially favored graduate emancipation and colonization over immediate abolition, Beecher eventually allowed the Seminary to serve as a center for antislavery agitation and uplift programs. Beecher’s daughter Harriet penned her famous abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) based on her family’s experience of transporting a woman thought to be an escaped slave to a safe house. Currently, the exhibits of the National Underground Freedom Center seek to “reveal stories about freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom today.” Designed by Booera architects of Portland, Oregon, the three pavilions—representing courage, cooperation, and perseverance—undulate to illustrate the fields and river that escaping slaves crossed to reach freedom. For $10, conference participants will receive a docent-led tour of the Center’s exhibits, which bring to life the importance and relevance of struggles for freedom around the world and throughout history.