Mascots and Kin Killin Kin Open at Freedom Center in November

. September 28, 2015

CINCINNATI, OH – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center announced today two new special exhibits opening this fall — Mascots, November 7 and Kin Killin’ Kin, November 14. Both exhibits open as national conversations continue to examine and discuss challenging themes on cultural appropriation, race and youth violence in inner city communities.

Mascots explores the history of mascots depicting American Indians in athletics, addressing the current debate of team names and cultural appropriation. American Indian mascots support the stereotype that assumes all American Indian tribes, with diverse, rich histories and cultures, can be easily grouped and represented as a caricature of one giant tribe. This over-generalization promotes the same type of stereotypes perpetuated throughout the 19th and 20th centuries through popular media and propaganda in the representation of African Americans and other minority groups. Today, these depictions continue the legacy of prejudice attitudes that support the myth that American Indian cultures exist only in the past, not the present.

Kin Killin’ Kin is a striking visual experience exploring youth violence in black, inner city communities. Local artist and Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts alum James Pate uses charcoal to create compelling visual scenes of young black men donned in Ku Klux Klan hoods committing or in the act of committing violent acts. Pate’s series was inspired by conversations he had in his own community, calling out the similarities between gang violence and the terrorism inflicted by the Ku Klux Klan.

“I was moved to use art as a means of illustrating this tragedy; complete with black brothers in pointed hoods creating acts of violence in the ‘hood’,” says Pate in his artist statement. “Every piece that I complete is a way of accepting some of the responsibility for these acts of violence. Every piece is a moment of silence and dedication to the people who have had to deal personally with our losses.”

By combining the iconography of the Ku Klux Klan, the Civil Rights Movement and all too familiar images of gang violence, Pate places the viewer inside the acts and the conversation, demanding their attention and reflection on the challenges, causes and insidious nature of violence.

“We welcome the community to join us and become a part of the dialogues that Mascots and Kin Killin’ Kin will stimulate and galvanize,” says Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “It is our responsibility as a national museum of conscious to address these topics head-on, educating the public on how history has led us to where we are today in order to inspire change for a brighter tomorrow – for all of us.”

Mascots opens Saturday, November 7 and Kin Killin’ Kin opens Saturday, November 14 at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Both exhibits are included with general admission. Mascots is curated by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in partnership with Xavier University. Kin Killin’ Kin is curated by Willis Bing Davis. Learn more about Mascots and Kin Killin’ Kin at

Category: Exhibition News

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