Relic a Reminder of Slavery's Horrors

Slave Cell on Display at Underground Railroad Center

The slave pen, relocated and reconstructed inside Cinncinnati's Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Visitors peer inside the window of a slave pen on display at Cincinnati's Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Mark Bealer/Freedom Center hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Bealer/Freedom Center
The slave pen, relocated and reconstructed inside Cinncinnati's Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

The slave pen, relocated and reconstructed inside Cincinnati's Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Mark Bealer/Freedom Center hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Bealer/Freedom Center

When farmer Ray Evers read about the new Underground Railroad Freedom Center opening in Cincinnati, he called the curators to say he had something they might want. Inside a barn on his Mason County, Ky., farm was a storage shed that once had been a slave pen.

The wooden structure, with barred windows and shackle rings, turned out to be one of the few such structures still intact in the United States. But thousands of slave pens once dotted the Southern countryside. They were used in the early 1800s as holding cells, in preparation for slave auctions.

The center and its slave pen exhibit open to the public Monday. As Harriet Baskas reports for the Hidden Treasures Radio Project, the exhibit may upset some, but curators believe it's a part of American history that shouldn't be hidden.

This story is part of the Hidden Treasures Radio Project, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Cultural Development Authority of King County, Wash.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.