CINCINNATI, Ohio – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has prepared new exhibits and programming for Black History Month and will feature student art along with a pop-up exhibit.

The long awaited debut of student art from across the country for the Second Annual Picture Freedom Art Contest will go on display February 11, 2017. Faith and Fashion: The Crowns of African American Women, a pop-up exhibit, will go on display February 21, 2017. Both exhibits are included in general admission.

The museum will also host three special Black History Month programs; Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask, Twice the First Time: A Discussion with Napoleon Maddox, and the Delta Gamma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s 11th Annual African American History Quiz Bowl.

The Picture Freedom Art Contest

The Picture Freedom Art Contest, sponsored by Toyota, encourages students to explore what freedom and equality means to them and to express those thoughts through works of art. Through the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s extensive collection of historical content and exhibitions, participating students became acquainted with freedom’s heroes and the struggle for equality and inclusive freedom throughout history and across the globe. On Saturday, February 11 at 1 p.m. the museum will host a reception honoring the top three winners: Razizi Ishakarah of Jackson, Mississippi; Teddy Gray of Cincinnati; and Serim Kim of Buena Park, California. The twelve student finalist works will be on exhibit throughout the museum until September 2017.

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask is a full length documentary that explores the life and legacy of Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first African Americans to achieve national fame as a writer. Born to former slaves in Dayton, Ohio, Paul Laurence Dunbar is best remembered for his poem, We Wear the Mask and for lines from Sympathy that became the title of Maya Angelou’s autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Dunbar’s story is also the story of the African American experience around the turn of the century. Frederick Lewis, School of Media Arts and Studies Associate Professor at Ohio University, and the documentary’s writer and director, will be in attendance to introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion. This February 11 program, scheduled for 11:00 a.m., is free and open to the public. RSVPs are requested.

Faith and Fashion: The Crowns of African American Women

Faith and Fashion: The Crowns of African American Women, on display February 21 – April 1, 2017, highlights the various self-expressions of women of all ages celebrating African American church culture. Church services are a time of worship and praise. Often times in African American churches, in addition to hearing songs and sermons, observers cannot help but look in amazement at the various hats of its female parishioners. In addition to exploring the various colors of crowns, personal narratives will account for the historical celebration of how African American women broke away from their domestic uniforms for Sunday services.

Twice the First Time: A Discussion with Napoleon Maddox 

Twice the First Time: A Discussion with Napoleon Maddox explores the life and significance of Millie and Christine McCoy, enslaved Siamese twins. Freed after the war, the twins embarked on three major tours and were seen by “the crowned heads” of Europe. Millie and Christine appeared in forty-six states and traveled widely around the world, often in conjunction with P. T. Barnum’s circus. This February 21 program, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., is free and open to the public. RSVPs are requested.

Delta Gamma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

The Delta Gamma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s 11th Annual African American History Quiz Bowl offers the region’s youth an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of African Americans over the history of our country. Young people from schools, churches, and community groups are encouraged to join the annual tournament. Please contact Steven Clark at (513) 746-8596 or smcaphia@aol.com for more information.

For more information about exhibits and programming at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, visit freedomcenter.org.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at freedomcenter.org, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery, endslaverynow.org.