Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Deep Financial Trouble

Slave houseIt opened to great fanfare and promise in 2004. Now, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,
whose exhibits focus on the story of the American struggle for freedom,
especially that of African Americans, is in deep financial trouble that
could force it to shut down.

Pictured: Robert Cooley teaches his daughter Cree Rayford, 7, about a slave house Dec. 2.

Located where African Americans crossed the Ohio River into freedom, the center has cut expenses severely but faces a $1.5 million shortfall in its 2012 budget, said Freedom Center board Co-chairman John Pepper and other center leaders.

chairman of the board of Walt Disney; the Rev. Damon Lynch, Pepper’s
Freedom Center co-chairman; and Kim Robinson, the center’s president and
chief executive, discussed the threat of the center closing by the end
of 2012.

“We were not crying wolf,” Pepper said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.

Freedom Center’s budget has been cut from $12.5 million in 2004 to $4.6
million in 2011, and its workforce from 120 to 34 full-time employees,
Robinson said. “We are scratching and clawing,” he said.

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SOURCE: Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer