On July 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm, twenty-seven FORGIVE/FIGHT statements will be read aloud by the eternal flame on our third floor balcony. These statements have been collected over the course of the run of Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu. This is NURFC’s world premiere temporary exhibition showcasing the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela from his early childhood through his fight against apartheid, onto his presidency and beyond.
These statements have been collected from visitors as they exit the exhibit. Each of our visitors have been encouraged after viewing the exhibition to reflect on what they are willing to forgive in their life and what they are willing to fight for. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has had an overwhelming rate of participation in this exercise and we wanted a way to showcase the impact that Nelson Mandela’s life and actions have had on the Cincinnati community. The idea of reading these important and poignant statements from the hearts of our visitors came from a program at another museum, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago. The Hull-House Museum performed a mock election last fall for members of their community that were unable to vote in the national election due to legal status, age, past criminal history, etc. The museum gave voice to their community on important issues that affected them where they otherwise would have had none. Visitors were encouraged to take a statement left on these “ballots” and read them aloud on a bullhorn from a second story window out into the street.
The NURFC recognized very quickly after the opening of Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu that our own community had very powerful things to say about a range of issues affecting them and our world. We invite you to join us on July 18th , what would have been President Mandela’s ninety-ninth birthday as we borrow the Hull-House Museum’s concept and we read aloud these statements of forgiveness and resistance. In the spirit of Mandela’s legacy we will read one statement for each of the twenty-seven years Mandela was held in bondage by the fascist government policies of Apartheid.
We sincerely hope you will join us on the afternoon of July 18 as we honor the legacy of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. His courageous actions changed the world. Listen with us as we hear the impact of his work on our visitors and learn what Cincinnatians want to forgive and what we as a community are ready to fight for.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center