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Freedom Center exhibit examines imagery of slavery, the Confederacy

Posted at 4:30 AM, Apr 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-06 06:22:01-04

CINCINNATI -- At first glance, one may think the portraits in a new exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center are just artistic depictions of American slaves in the 1800s. But each one appeared first on Confederate currency. 

"Beginning in 1820, they had images of plantation life on the currency," Christopher Miller, the Center's program initiatives manager, said. 

"Confederate Currency: The Color of Money" is on display now at the Freedom Center. It's intended to show a correlation between slavery and the Confederate economy.

"This reveals that slavery played a very, very significant role in the economic foundation of our country," Miller said

Artist John Jones recreated the images in the bills in paintings. They seem to depict a narrative of what slave life was like.

"Many of the images looked very endearing," Miller said. "They wanted to glorify and justify slavery."

A second exhibit deal with how we view the Confederacy today. Researcher Katie Bramell said that includes items like the Confederate flag and monuments.

A Klan hood may be disturbing to some visitors, but there's an opportunity to offer opinions on what the flag and other Confederate images represent.

"People are actually going to be able to vote whether they feel these symbols represent 'heritage' or 'hate,'" Bramell said.

The exhibit runs through July 13.