Tuesday, March 28, 2006


National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Has Money Troubles So It Wants Yours

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which opened Aug. 23, 2004, has not been able to generate enough money to support itself.
the Freedom Center needs at least $2 million in annual funding from local, state or federal taxpayers starting in 2008.


But securing public money may be difficult, since many government officials say they thought the museum had promised that it wouldn't need ongoing taxpayer support. Combined, the city, county, state and federal governments contributed close to $40 million toward the $110 million campaign to build the 158,000-square-foot Freedom Center.


As early as 2002, when the museum broke ground in a star-filled ceremony that included first lady Laura Bush and boxing champion Muhammad Ali, the Freedom Center's finances were showing weakness, but the problems were masked by the enthusiasm of the campaign that financed construction and initial exhibits.


Estimates of how many people the museum could attract started as high as 1 million annually early in the project's life. When it opened, the Freedom Center predicted about 260,000 visitors the first year and got 283,000. But now, president Spencer Crew estimates attendance will level at fewer than 200,000 people a year
The center is an expensive endeavor for a typical family. Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $8 children 6-12. For me and my three minor children a visit would cost $44. Not cheap.

Plus, the Center ran several insulting TV ads that created negative responses. From the feedback at the Center's website, A man from Albany, NY writes:
Your TV commercial featuring and elderly Asian man and his grandson in their bodega is as insensitive and racist as the people you claim to target with your adds. You are only highlighting the fact that bigotry is as big a problem in the African American community as it is in the "outside world" you seem to be unable to forgive. Grow up and stop the racism in your own adds and stop broadcasting your immaturity into our homes.
A person from Virginia:
I'm getting tired of all of these commercials, more less depicting all white people as being rascist in some sorts.
I, myself, found these ads to be quite offensive and also more appropriate for 40 or more years ago. These ads used to be available for viewing at the Center website but it appears they got wise and removed them from the site.

Given the cost of visiting and the apparent on making present day whites feel guilty for something that happened in another time, many, like myself, have found better ways to spend our time and our money. Now that the Center can't support itself due to its own poor planning and alienation of potential customers it wants to have the government force us to pay for its operations. I say forget it.

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