Freedom Center Welcomes New President
Photo by Tracy Doyle
As a place where people can speak freely and have constructive dialogue, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is vital, says the center’s new president, Dion Brown. “Given the challenges our society is facing, this institution is more relevant than ever in bringing diverse points of view together.”
Brown, who most recently served as founding executive director of the National Blues Museum in St. Louis, took the helm at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in February. As the center approaches its 15th anniversary, Brown will lead in developing a strategic plan for programmatic and capital needs.
After visiting the museum during the search process, Brown was moved by the exhibits, location and facilities of the center. “When I first saw the Eternal Flame, it blew me away,” Brown recalls. The Eternal Flame, located on the museum’s third floor terrace, overlooks the Ohio River and the Kentucky shoreline. It represents the candles that burned in the windows of Underground Railroad operators that helped to guide the enslaved on their path to freedom.
Brown emphasizes the unique role of the museum as a local resource with national impact. He urges all area residents to take advantage of the resource. “It’s Cincinnati’s museum,” he says, “it’s right in your backyard.” He hopes the museum can rank as a “must see” for people living in the Cincinnati area and visitors.
One distinct draw is the center’s schedule of frequently changing exhibits. On view this spring is Confederate Currency: The Color of Money, an exhibit that combines framed Confederate currency notes depicting slavery with acrylic paintings by artist John W. Jones inspired by those currency images.
Another enticement to museum visitors is programming for all ages, including gallery talks, school tours, film screenings and featured speakers.
“I love to be part of a community,” Brown says. He and his wife have already received a warm welcome and are looking forward to discovering local sights, finding a church home and cheering on the Reds. The couple has lived all over the world and the United States, most recently in Missouri, Mississippi and Kansas.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located at 50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.333.7500 or visit www.freedomcenter.org.