What for many will be a very difficult and emotional journey begins January 19th, 2010, at Cincinnati's Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
"Without Sanctuary," is an exhibit of photographs depicting America's dark and lengthy dance with the devil from 1882 until 1968, when nearly 5000 Americans died at the end of a hangman's noose-lynched and brutalized by their fellow Americans.
The exhibit has been touring the country drawing record crowds. It will stay at the Freedom Center until May of this year.
"Without Sanctuary" sheds light on a very brutal part of American history. It is not the "comfort history" that is routinely taught in schools across America. This exhibit pulls the drape to uncover the remnants of America's Holocaust, that officially lasted from 1619 until 1865 when slaves were officially emancipated.
While emancipation gave the newly freed slaves many of the same rights as other citizens, lynching was used to take them back.
Winking at a white woman is what many believe was the basis behind lynchings. However rape allegations and accusations were the basis behind about a fourth of the incidents. Most people lynched...men and women....were political and labor activists. And while most of those lynched were in fact Black, many were native American, some were Jewish, and some were Hispanic or other minorities.
All committed the ultimate crime of upsetting the status quo as defined by the majority.
The exhibit also reveals what happened here in the tri state during those years. Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana were not guiltless during this era. In fact, this area, right now, present day, remains the number one location for KKK and White Supremacists activity in America. Come learn the history of our area, and find out the part our ancestors played in shaping this shameful era.
I hope that my fellow Cincinnatians will use this opportunity to go and see "Without Sanctuary." And, while you're at it, take in the Freedom Center, tour it and learn history as it should be taught, honestly and simply in the words, deeds and pictures of those who lived and witnessed it.
And look for me, down there, as well. I just recently became a volunteer exhibit interpreter and am geeked about beginning another journey of historical revelation. "Without Sanctuary" represents my first exhibit. I look forward to sharing it with you.