LatinaLista — 2009 will go down in history as a very momentous year in our nation’s history for obvious reasons — the swearing-in of the nation’s first biracial president — but there’s also another reason that has been overshadowed by Obama’s presidency and deserves a little more attention.
It’s the bicentennial — meaning 200-year anniversary — of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Because of what Lincoln did in signing the Emancipation Proclamation, we are able to have an African American First Family.
But how can Latinos connect with the Lincoln legacy?
Thanks to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission select cities across the country are sites for what the commission calls “Town Hall” meetings to explore issues of race, equality, social justice and history, as it pertains to Lincoln’s legacy. Not by coincidence, some of the cities selected are home to large Latino populations.
Miami, Florida is host to one such meeting whose theme for the night is “Lincoln, Miami and the American Dream.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and the Knight Foundation’s Alberto Ibarguen, will join the discussion on November 1 to voice their thoughts on how Lincoln’s life and words are still shaping Miami 200 years after his birth.
Also, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., Director of the W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University — yes, that Dr. Gates, will be on hand to discuss his book, Lincoln on Race & Slavery
In addition to the Town Hall meetings, lectures are planned. For example, in Chicago, on Oct. 28 at the National Museum of Mexican Art, the discussion will focus on “Lincoln and JuÃ¡rez: In Myth and Memory” — that’s Mexican President Benito Juarez.
However, these lectures and Town Hall meetings aren’t just to remember a President who still stands as one of the most revered and influential men of the Oval Office and who had an impact on the lives of all Americans.
As the Bicentennial Commission points out:
Inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to build an equal opportunity society, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission’s Lincoln Legacy Town Hall Meeting series seeks to build mutual understanding about differing perspectives on race and ethnicity and provide an opportunity to re-examine what it means to be American in the 21st century.
It’s a conversation that is long overdue.