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Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Launches Virtual Freedom Conversation Tours

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Launches Virtual Freedom Conversation Tours

Niagara Falls, NY – The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is launching a new virtual “Freedom Conversation” tour program this week. Freedom Conversations are the signature program at the Heritage Center. Pre-covid, they were offered twice daily on site.

Interim Director of Education at the Heritage Center, Chris Bacon, is thrilled to offer the thought-provoking tour virtually to the public.

“Freedom Conversation tours have always been at the forefront of our mission as a pivotal program that ties our past to our present,” Bacon said. “Rooted in the stories of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, these tours spark conversation and offer a space to consider the relationship between race, human rights, and freedom.” 

The public can book their spot for the virtual “Freedom Conversation” tour at https://www.niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org/events/. The tours will last approximately 60 minutes and are led by trained facilitators, offering a way to foster empathy, increase knowledge, and encourage action. All tours will be hosted via Zoom and participants will be sent a password upon registration. 

The Heritage Center is offering two tours per week: Wednesdays at 7:00pm EST and Saturdays at 2:00pm EST. 

Prices

Family: $25

Couple: $12

Single: $8

Freedom Conversations are sponsored by a Humanities New York Action Grant.

 

About the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center opened in May 2018 after 11 years of planning. The center is located inside the former 1863 U.S. Custom House attached to the Niagara Falls Amtrak station. The center sits adjacent to the location of the former International Suspension Bridge, a point of crossing for many freedom seekers including Harriet Tubman. 

The Heritage Center preserves the historic role of the people of Niagara Falls in facilitating freedom for the oppressed. The places and stories associated with this network of freedom seekers, free African Americans and abolitionists, evoke powerful themes in American history and celebrate the bravery of the men and women who risked their lives to achieve the most basic rights of liberty. Learn more at niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org.

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August 28 is John Lewis Day!

August 28 is John Lewis Day!

The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is proud to proclaim August 28, 2020 as John Lewis Day at the Center, in honor of the late Representative

Fifty-seven years ago, on August 28, 1963, over 200,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. John Lewis, chairman and co-founder of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), delivered a speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Lewis spoke to the lived reality of African Americans at the time: lack of employment, voter suppression, police violence, and homelessness. Known for his activism, Lewis went on to be elected to the House of Representatives in 1986 where he served Georgia’s 5th District until his death this year.

Fifty-seven years later, Lewis’s speech remains chillingly relevant, just as the resistance to oppression that became the Underground Railroad remains relevant today. Lewis continued the work of the Freedom Seekers who came before him. We must all continue the work of John Lewis.

In honor of Lewis‘ legacy of fighting for racial equality and voting rights, we welcome all to visit the Heritage Center to learn the history behind his activism and to be inspired by the stories of perseverance told within our walls.

John Lewis Day features:

  • Free admission to the Heritage Center from Friday, August 28th thru Sunday, August 30, courtesy of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area. Due to capacity guidelines, we will be enacting timed ticketing. Reserve your space now.

  • A free copy of the Black History Coloring Book: Entrepreneurs with all purchases of at least $57.

  • On-site voter registration provided in coordination with Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope.

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center wins  2020 JUST COMMUNITIES of WNY  ORGANIZATION Award

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center wins 2020 JUST COMMUNITIES of WNY ORGANIZATION Award

February 20, 2020— Buffalo, NY. The National Federation for Just Communities of WNY presented an award to the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, honoring the museum for their work on the behalf of others. The Heritage Center was given the “Organization” award alongside 19 other awards that honored everything from Youth, Sports, and Public Relations.

 

The National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York is a human relations organization dedicated to overcoming racism, bias, and bigotry through advocacy and engagement.

 

 

 

About the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is an experiential museum that reveals authentic stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls, and aims to inspire visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and take action toward an equitable society. Open since May 2018, the permanent exhibition, One More River to Cross, features the rich stories of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, the crucial role played by its location and geography, and the actions of its residents – particularly its African American residents. The Heritage Center’s immersive exhibits and cutting-edge interpretation affirmatively align with the principles of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, whose mission is to connect the past to modern social justice issues – “to turn memory to action.” Learn more at Niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org

 

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All K-12 field trips at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center are free in February and March.

All K-12 field trips at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center are free in February and March.

Niagara Falls, NY — In honor of Black History Month, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is offering free field trips and transportation to all K-12 schools in Niagara County. Free Field Trips are generously sponsored by M&T Bank.

Following a tremendous success offering free field trips in February 2019, this year the Heritage Center will expand the program into March to accommodate more children, teachers, and chaperones.

Christine Bacon, Interim Director of Education at the Heritage Center said of the free field trips, “Since we opened in 2018, we’ve been looking for ways to bring every student in Niagara County to the Heritage Center to learn about the amazing history right in their backyards. By removing the barriers of cost for admission and the costs of transportation we can offer our field trips to more youth in our county.” She continued, “At the Heritage Center we connect local history to the broader context of the Underground Railroad, highlighting real freedom seekers and abolitionists for whom Niagara Falls was the gateway to freedom.”

Throughout the month the Heritage Center hopes to be packed with students in the mornings but invites everyone in the region to experience the museum and the stories as well. Evan Wright, the Heritage Center Visitor Services Manager says, “At the Heritage Center, we focus on Black History every month of the year, but we welcome visitors to spend extra time with this history during February. The stories we share at this museum have something in them for everyone.”

Transportation to the Heritage Center from all K-12 schools in Niagara County will be reimbursed by the Heritage Center. The Heritage Center can accommodate field trips from 10-60 students, teachers, and chaperones. Groups of that size should plan to spend 60-90 minutes on-site. Field trips can be booked Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Schools should book directly with the Heritage Center by emailing Tours@NiagaraFallsUndergroundRailroad.org or calling 716.300.8477.

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center’s Permanent Exhibition “One More River to Cross” Wins 2019 AASLH Award of Excellence

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center’s Permanent Exhibition “One More River to Cross” Wins 2019 AASLH Award of Excellence

NASHVILLE, TN—May 2019—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is the recipient of an Award of Excellence for One More River to Cross, the permanent exhibition at the Heritage Center. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 74th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

 

Opened May 4, 2018, One More River to Cross is the permanent exhibition at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. The goal of the project was to reintroduce the forgotten history of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls and share the unique and courageous stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in this city. The Heritage Center surpassed these goals by creating an experiential museum filled with stories grounded in academic scholarship and brought to life in an immersive experience that blends historic recreations, artifacts, original fine art, music, narration, and multimedia interactive exhibits. While the Underground Railroad must be set within the broader context of the institutionalized system of slavery that once existed in the United States, slavery, per se, is not a primary focus at the Heritage Center. Rather, we focus on the strength and agency of the individuals who used the Underground Railroad to claim their own freedom. Freedom seekers themselves are at the heart of our stories. Moreover, the Heritage Center connects their stories to the continued struggle for all people to live free from oppression.

This year, AASLH is proud to confer fifty national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2019 AASLH Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, on Friday, August 30. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to www.aaslh.org.

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, and maintains numerous affinity communities and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The association also sponsors an annual meeting, regional and national training in-person workshops, and online training.

 

Media Contacts:

Emily Reynolds

Emily@niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

 

Bethany Hawkins

hawkins@aaslh.org

615-320-3203

AASLH

PHOTO: Copyright Kim Smith

Shaq Lawson Will Host 10 Local High School Student Athletes on a Tour of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

Shaq Lawson Will Host 10 Local High School Student Athletes on a Tour of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

Shaq Lawson will be hosting 10 local high school student-athletes on a tour of the Underground Railroad Museum in Niagara Falls, NY. The student-athletes are all high school football players from WNY.

Event Information for visit to The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
When: 4:30 pm on June 4th, 2019
Who: Shaq Lawson and 10 Student-Athletes football players from Lackawanna, Bennett, Niagara Falls, Bishop Timon, and Orchard Park.
What: Shaq Lawson will be hosting 10 local student-athletes and touring the historic Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center in Niagara Falls, NY.
Post Tour: After the tour, Shaq will answer questions and take photos with the kids, staff, and guests of the museum.