Celebrating 20 Years!

Celebrating 20 Years!

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (OLLI) is a group of more than 1,000 individuals, age 50 and over, who learn together through three distinct programs: OLLI Classes, OLLI Learning Trips, and OLLI Study Groups.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Civil War Tour, Day 8 -- May 5, 2010

On Tuesday morning, we left Columbus, Ohio, and drove south to Cincinnati for our visit to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum, where no cameras were allowed. We were greeted by our guide, Christopher Davis, who directed our “Highlights Tour” and told us why Cincinnati was so important to the Underground Railroad.

Kentucky was a slave state, and Ohio was a free state. With Covington, KY directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, many slaves crossed the river on their route to freedom. The historical perspective was presented in a two-part film, with the first part narrated by Oprah Winfrey. She introduced the main historical figures John Parker and the Rev. John Rankin, who were abolitionists in nearby Ripley, OH. The second part of the film was shown in an "experiential" theater and portrayed a young female slave who was trying to escape her captors. The presentation was very suspenseful as we watched the sons of Rev. Rankin help the woman up a large hill just in time to evade the slave hunters.

We learned that – of all the slaves captured in Africa – only 5% came to America, but during our visit we saw many exhibits that told the stories of life as a slave. Exhibits include an authentic “slave pen,” a building used to hold slaves before they were sold. The building, from the early 1800’s, was donated to the Freedom Center by a Kentucky farmer who found the structure on his land. Another feature of the museum is a genealogical research center, where visitors can use the resources for free. We left the National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum with a deeper understanding of slavery, past and present.

After a fantastic dinner at the Beef House in Covington, Indiana, our band of travelers boarded the bus for the final leg of our trip home.
As a group, we had traveled over 1800 miles and thoroughly enjoyed nine museums, three Civil War battlefield sites, sixteen unique meals, six historically significant restaurants, eight days and seven nights of travel, and the teaching of two phenomenal Civil War experts.

Many thanks to Bernie Drake (Peoria Historical Society) and Rev. Dr. Randy Saxon (United Presbyterian Church) for their engaging learning activities and “on-the-move” lectures. They kept us on our toes and patiently answered our questions while enriching our understanding of the Civil War, military strategy, and the people and places affected by the “War of Northern Aggression.”

Thanks also to Peoria Charter Coach for providing our transportation and to Don Farden, Professional Motorcoach Driver…extraordinaire. Don maneuvered our coach in and out of some very narrow streets and many tight spaces while delivering excellent customer service at every stop.

Finally, thanks to Michelle Riggio, Continuing Education Program Director, who created and maintained the blog while the group was on the road.

We hope that you have enjoyed following our adventures as we explored the places, people, and events of the Civil War. Until next time…

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