Paramount Chief Caulker had a unique museum experience visiting Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Freedom Center chronicles three centuries of slavery in the US and educates on today’s human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Many African- American ancestors came from Sierra Leone, as now shown through analysis of slave ship records and DNA testing. The Freedom Center spotlights the Cincinnati area’s important role in abolition and the Underground Railroad that secretly moved slaves to safety in the North.
Richard Cooper, the center’s director of museum experiences, gave Chief Caulker a personal tour, starting with two huge artifacts on the main floor. The first is Journey I and II, dramatic textiles depicting West African history and the slave trade by Aminah Robinson, made over 35 years.
It’s an unforgettable experience to step inside an actual slave pen moved intact from only 60 miles away. It was used in Kentucky to hold enslaved people until they were moved farther south.
The names of a group of slaves were posted in front. Chief Caulker noted one name, Amada, saying it sounded like a Sierra Leone name. Could this have been a Sierra Leonean?
We were lucky to view a special exhibit with an original handwritten copy of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery — with Abraham Lincoln’s signature.
A Freedom Center visit serves to underscore the special connections between the US and Sierra Leone and how our histories are linked.