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AMERICAN MOSAIC - National Underground Railroad Freedom Center / Olympic Cities / The Pixies - 2004-08-19

Broadcast: August 20, 2004



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week ... Music from the Pixies...

A question about American cities that have hosted the Olympic Games...

And...A report about a new museum in the middle western city of Cincinnati, Ohio...

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center


The new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio officially opens on August twenty-third. The name sounds as if it tells about a real railroad. But the underground railroad was a secret organization. It helped African American slaves escape their owners during the eighteen hundreds. The slaves and the people who helped them flee formed the underground railroad system.Shep O’Neal has more.


The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a special museum. The Freedom Center is on the north side of the Ohio River. That is part of an area that meant hope for slaves trying to escape. It was called the “freedom corridor.” People fleeing their owners could stand on the other side of the river and dream of freedom across the water.

The Freedom Center cost one hundred ten million dollars to build. Its collection shows two hundred objects. These include a copy of a wagon with a false bottom that was used to hide fleeing slaves. There are also photographs of Americans who were activists against slavery.

Visitors can also see objects from the Civil War. The southern states fought the northern states from eighteen sixty-one to eighteen sixty-five. In eighteen sixty-three, President Abraham Lincoln announced an order to free the slaves.

Perhaps the center’s most interesting object is a small building where slaves were kept. This wooden “pen” stands two levels high. A slave trader built it in the eighteen thirties. People captured in Africa were temporarily forced to stay inside the pen. Then they were sold for service in places further south. The slave pen was found on a farm in the state of Kentucky. The owner of the farm gave it to the Freedom Center. Experts spent six years researching the history of the building.

Television star Oprah Winfrey introduces one of the films shown at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Actors tell about a young woman who escapes slavery. She flees to a town called Ripley, Ohio. Her former owners try to recapture her. But a family active in the Underground Railroad helps her remain free.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will offer a number of educational programs.

They include public speakers. Also, the center will provide programs for visiting school groups and information for students through an Internet Web site. It is

Olympic Cities


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Bangalore, India. Prashant Devidas asks how many American cities have hosted the Olympic Games.

The Summer Olympic Games are now being played in Athens, Greece. The games have taken place in six different cities in the United States since the modern Olympic Games began in eighteen ninety-six.

The Summer Games in nineteen oh four were played in Saint Louis, Missouri. Twelve nations took part in more than ninety events held over more than four months. But only forty-two events included athletes who were not from the United States. The Saint Louis Olympics are important in the history of the games. They were the first at which gold, silver and bronze medals were given for first, second and third place in the competitions. And the first Africans to compete in the Olympics did so in Saint Louis.

In nineteen thirty-two, the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles, California. Thirty-seven nations took part in these games held during the great economic depression. Experts say the level of competition was extremely high. Eighteen world records were either broken or equaled. These Olympics were the first to be held over sixteen days. The length of the Olympics has remained between fifteen and eighteen days ever since. Los Angeles also hosted the Summer Olympics in nineteen eighty-four, when the Soviet Union refused to take part.

A third American city to host the Summer Olympics was Atlanta, Georgia in nineteen ninety-six. Almost two hundred nations took part in more than two hundred events. The games set a record for the most nations to win medals — seventy-nine.

Three other American cities have hosted the Winter Olympic Games since that competition began in nineteen twenty-four. Lake Placid, New York held the games in nineteen thirty-two and again in nineteen eighty. Squaw Valley, California hosted them in nineteen sixty. And Salt Lake City, Utah was the site of the most recent Winter Games in two thousand two.

The Pixies Return


The Pixies are back. From nineteen eighty-six to nineteen ninety-two, they gained a following among fans of alternative rock. This influential group led by Black Francis (also known as Charles Thompson) had four successful albums and several hit songs. Gwen Outen has more on the Pixies' reunion.


It appears that the Pixies may have more fans now than before they broke up. A lot of their current shows are selling out. In fact, business is so good, the group is adding more performances along the way. One of the songs most popular with audiences is the nineteen eighty-nine hit, “Here Comes Your Man.”


"Here Comes Your Man" was on “Doolittle,” the second album from the Pixies and their biggest seller. Another popular album “Bossanova,” came out in nineteen ninety with this song, “Allison.”


The Pixies already have recorded one new song together. And their agent hopes the band will put together a new album. But until then you can enjoy them live ... if you can get tickets, that is.

We leave you with another song from "Doolittle. " Here are the Pixies with “La La Love You.”



This is Doug Johnson.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This program was written by Nancy Steinbach, Jerilyn Watson and Caty Weaver. Paul Thompson was the producer.