Virtual discussions explore race relations 20 years after Timothy Thomas’ death

Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library and Freedom Center to host virtual panels May 13 & May 25

In the wake of a year of civil unrest and demands for social justice, four Cincinnati organizations are looking back at the past 20 years of race relations in the city since Timothy Thomas’ death. Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC), Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library (CHPL), the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and the Woman’s City Club of Cincinnati are hosting virtual panel discussions May 13 and May 25 to examine how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

From Riot to Protest to Civil Unrest: Conversations About Race Relations in Cincinnati brings together academics, activists, journalists, and leaders over two panels to discuss the lessons learned and forgotten and possible paths forward.

“Successive generations have all had their moments of social awakening and racial reckoning, each built on those who came before them,” said Woody Keown Jr., president & COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “By examining our recent past and doing so through the voices of those who lived it, we can help the next generation learn from the lessons of our past and take the next step forward through understanding, empathy, and action.”

Cincinnati was at the forefront of racial injustice in 2001 after the killing of Timothy Thomas by police. “20 Years Later: Race Relations in Cincinnati” brings together local leaders to share their expertise on the death of Timothy Thomas and the following unrest. Panelists also are discussing where we are today and the current Black Lives Matter movement. The panel is moderated by Dr. Joan Ferrante, professor of sociology at Northern Kentucky University, and includes Pastor Damon Lynch III, professor of African American Studies Dr. Eric Jackson, news anchor and reporter Clyde Gray, attorney Alphonse A. Gerhardstein, and activist Yasim Southall. “20 Years Later: Race Relations in Cincinnati” takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 13. Click here to register.

“In light of the city’s history in regard to race relations, the Library is proud to partner for this essential panel discussion. Twenty-first-century libraries like ours strive to be – and must be – pillars of equity, inclusion, diversity, and democracy for the communities we serve. We hope this discussion can build on the work being done by various organizations and entities across Cincinnati to create a better community,” said Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director of the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library.

Young people have been at the forefront of Black Lives Matter protests around the world, taking to the streets and the web to fight for justice and a better world. “Growing Into the Struggle for Racial Justice” brings together young leaders in Cincinnati to discuss their experiences growing up and growing into political consciousness in the wake of Timothy Thomas’s murder and the civil unrest of 2001. Andria Carter of the Cincinnati Herald moderates that panel, joined by panelists from Elementz, Pones, and the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. Also joining the panel are Cincinnati Public Schools students from the student-led Speak Up, Speak Out organization as they reflect on how the events of 2001 impacted community responses to the murder of Sam Dubose in 2015 and George Floyd in 2020. “Growing Into the Struggle for Racial Justice” begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25. Click here to register.

“The generation coming of age now is doing so in an era of increased public racial violence without the mental and emotional distance to grieve or process through these events,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “We hope that in speaking with panelists who were their age 20 years ago, they can begin to process these moments and, together, help lead us toward the racial justice that’s escaped us for too long.”

Both virtual panels are free but registration is required.

About Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized, award-winning institution housed in a National Historic Landmark. CMC is a vital community resource that sparks curiosity, inspiration, epiphany and dialogue. CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012, one of a select few museums in the nation to receive both honors. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Children’s Museum, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, and the Geier Collections and Research Center. Housed in historic Union Terminal – a National Historic Landmark restored in 2018 and recognized as the nation’s 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects – CMC welcomes more than 1.8 million visits annually, making it one of the most visited museums in the country. For more information, visit cincymuseum.org.

About the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library

The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library has been cultivating curiosity from the moment we first opened our doors in 1853. Since then, we have evolved into one of the biggest and busiest libraries in the country: supporting minds of all kinds who seek to unlock their full potential. With 41 neighborhood branches, a vast range of programming, and an ever-growing collection of virtual resources, we're proud to be a place where everyone can learn without limits. To learn more, visit cincinnatilibrary.org or call 513-369-6900.

About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at freedomcenter.org, opens a new window, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State, and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery, endslaverynow.org, opens a new window

About the Woman’s City Club of Cincinnati

Woman’s City Club of Cincinnati is a leading civic organization celebrating its 105th year. The Club promotes justice, civic reform, and citizen engagement through education, advocacy, and service. Learn more at womanscityclub.org, opens a new window.