National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Exhibition Reveals Grim Reality Of Human Trafficking

January 13, 2020

Motel X opens January 11

CINCINNATI – Since 2012, human trafficking cases have steadily increased in the United States, rising to 10,949 cases reported last year. Ohio mirrors those numbers, with over 400 cases reported in 2018. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) is hoping to increase awareness and action against human trafficking with its new exhibition Motel X. The exhibition opens January 11, 2020 – Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Cincinnati sits on one of the worst highways for human trafficking in the United States. I-75 provides an easy pipeline for traffickers to transport people thousands of miles through multiple states. Many people are unaware of the practical knowledge that could help prevent human trafficking and possibly save victims. Designed by local filmmaker Christine Marque specifically for display at NURFC, Motel X hopes to evoke an empathetic link to practical knowledge, give people the opportunity to fight against the atrocity of human trafficking and give survivors a platform to share their stories.

Motel X has been a three-year journey and I am very excited to see it come to life,” says Shrum. “My hope is that this exhibition changes the way people think about human trafficking and encourages a new generation of modern day abolitionists.”

Motel X is an interactive motel for guests to explore. As they walk through the motel door, through the room, guests encounter the story of a teenage girl forced into sex slavery by human traffickers. Exiting the room and entering the bathroom, guests are introduced to an immigrant worker inadvertently caught up in trafficking humans. Throughout the exhibition clues reveal warning signs, statistics and actions that can help combat human trafficking. Interactive clues include audio tracks, dressers with items of clothing that reveal information when moved and a bedside Bible that, when opened, reveals stark facts about human trafficking. As guests exit the bathroom, they enter a gallery that will feature artwork from local survivors.

“The fight for freedom is not one of past or future generations but is one that is being fought every day by this generation,” says Woody Keown, Jr., president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Through education and awareness, we can equip this generation to push back against those human traffickers preying on people, and we can begin to shut down the flow of humans being exploited and abused right here in Greater Cincinnati.”

Motel X will run January 11 through April 5, 2020. Visit to learn more.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center remains committed to ending human trafficking as part of their End Slavery Now initiative. You can learn more about the initiative at


About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery,

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