Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Black History Month Celebration
Feb. 27, 2017

As you heard already, we have another stellar program for our Black History Month celebration this year.

I’m pleased to introduce our speaker, Dr. Clarence Newsome, who has served as president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati since 2013.

Opening in 2004, the underground railroad freedom center has hosted 1.3 million visitors and inspired them to take courageous steps for freedom.

Similarly inspiring is Dr. Newsome.

He served on the White House Advisory Group on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

He’s a board member of the United Negro College Fund.

He’s a past president of Shaw University and of the Society for the Study of Black Religion.

I could go on and on, but you can read more about his background in the program. I also would encourage you to view any of his excellent speeches on YouTube.

Suffice it to say that we are very fortunate that Dr. Newsome has agreed to share his insights with us today, particularly considering that he is known for his work in African American history and culture.

But I would go even further in expressing our collective thanks for the work he and the freedom center conduct.

The fact that the freedom center serves as a national and international resource on implicit bias impacts us all by helping us to understand how prejudice works and how we can address our own prejudices and bias.

Only by understanding ourselves better and how we view others unlike us, can we hope to be more tolerant citizens of the world.

I also have a belated thanks for the freedom center, since our organizations have collaborated before.

The freedom center graciously hosted a Supreme Court Judicial College educational program for judges and magistrates in 2011 titled “Slavery, Lincoln, and the Art of Judging.”

Not only did the course and the setting receive rave reviews, but our staff had the pleasure of working with your late colleague, Jackie Wallace.

Thank you for that, and we would love to reprise the course at some point in the future.

We are looking forward to your words of wisdom about freedom and the rule of law.

Please join me in welcoming the president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Dr. Clarence Newsome, as the 2017 Supreme Court of Ohio Black History Month celebration keynote speaker.