*LOS ANGELES, CA – It would be difficult to imagine the course of American history without them: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad; Rosa Parks and her brave refusal in 1955 to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery city bus; Fannie Lou Hamer and her courageous stand at a 1968 political convention.

These stories of courage and commitment are among the many featured in Freedom’s Sisters, a collaboration between Ford Motor Company Fund, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The interactive exhibit showcases twenty extraordinary African American women, inviting visitors to bear witness to some of the most important moments in our nation’s history. The exhibition will open to the public at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California on Wednesday, September 14, 2011.

“The women honored in Freedom’s Sisters are an inspiration to people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Ford is proud to fund this national exhibition celebrating women who have truly changed our country and our world.”

Activities for the exhibition will begin Monday, September 13, 2011. A press preview featuring Freedom’s Sisters honorees will be held at 6 p.m. prior to a private reception for the Freedom’s Sisters local Committee of Honor and other dignitaries that evening. Press check in begins at 5:30 p.m. Honored guests will include national Freedom’s Sisters Dr. Sonia Sanchez and Myrlie Evers-Williams who are featured as part of the exhibition.  The Insider’s host Kevin Frazier will emcee the evening event.

A variety of engaging educational and community outreach programs are planned during the exhibition’s run. In conjunction with the 20 national Freedom’s Sisters, the museum honors 40 local Freedom’s Sisters in the exhibition. These women exemplified locally the same courage and commitment in the Los Angeles community.  In addition, an essay contest is open to students in 4th-8th grade who visit the exhibit and answer the question: “Who is your favorite Freedom Sister and why? What are you doing to continue her legacy?” Ford Motor Company will award $10,000 in U.S. savings bonds to winning entries. The contest deadline is November 21, 2011.

A prestigious National Committee of Honor has embraced the exhibition.  Members of the Freedom’s Sisters Committee of Honor include Quincy Jones, Dr. Johnetta Cole, General Colin Powell, Patti LaBelle, the Honorable Maxine Waters and a wide range of national dignitaries, reflecting the exhibition’s broad appeal.

“These 20 women left not a footnote but a footprint on American history,” said SITES Director Anna R. Cohn.  “Many of their stories may not be well known, but their roles and contributions were monumental in shaping our country and its conscience.”

Organized around four themes – “Dare to Dream,” “Inspire Lives” “Serve the Public” and “Look to the Future,” Freedom’s Sisters is designed especially as an educational tool targeting students.  Historical simulations and interactive displays are being set up to drive home messages and meanings central to each woman’s life.

“Special stories are best told in special places. The Museum of Tolerance is a twenty-first century museum featuring stories of individual conscience and courage, confronting the past-and-present of prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance. Here, the inspiring stories of the Freedom’s Sisters who personified the civil rights movement come to life,” said Liebe Geft, director of the Museum of Tolerance.

Freedom’s Sisters was created by Cincinnati Museum Center and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The national tour is made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.  The exhibition will remain at The Museum of Tolerance through January 8th, 2012.

For more information on the Freedom’s Sisters exhibition, visit http://www.museumoftolerance.com/ or call 310-553-8403.

Freedom’s Sisters:

Ella J. Baker
Constance Baker Motley
Shirley Chisholm
Mary Church Terrell
Septima Poinsette Clark
Kathleen Cleaver
Myrlie Evers-Williams
Fannie Lou Hamer
Dorothy Height
Charlayne Hunter-Gault
Barbara Jordan
Mary McLeod Bethune
Rosa Parks
Sonia Sanchez
Coretta Scott King
Betty Shabazz
Harriet Tubman
C. Delores Tucker
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Ida B. Wells


About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com
About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and American heritage and community life. The Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 60 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. The award-winning Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches new drivers through a variety of hands-on and interactive methods. Innovation in education is encouraged through national programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. Through the Ford Volunteer Corps, more than 27,000 Ford employees and retirees each year work on projects that better their communities in dozens of countries. For more information, visit www.community.ford.com

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is home to the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater, and the Cincinnati Historical Society Library. It is a nationally recognized educational and research resource and one of the top cultural attractions in the Midwest. Cincinnati Museum Center serves more than one million visitors annually, reaching out to almost 200,000 young people through hands-on exhibits and programs. As a center for the community, more than 700 events are held in the building each year. Originally built in 1933 as the Union Terminal train station, the building is a national historic landmark and was renovated and reopened as Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990. For information, call (513) 287-7000 or 1-800-733-2077 or visit www.cincymuseum.org.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For more information, including exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu.

Recipient of the Global Peace and Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations, the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts and confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today.  The genesis of the MOT, the first museum of it kind in the world, came from the leadership of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an internationally recognized and acclaimed Jewish human rights organization named in honor of famed Nazi hunter, the late Simon Wiesenthal.   The Museum of Tolerance New York, located in midtown Manhattan, opened in 2005 and the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem is currently under construction.

Edna Sims, ESP Public Relations
Ntouch Communications
[email protected]