The full weight of the RNC legacy is on Michael Steele’s shoulders this month. Yesterday was the 200th birthday of the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. It was also the 100th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and February is Black History Month.
President Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States, delivered a Lincoln Bicentennial address at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. Then it was off to Springfield, IL to the Abraham Lincoln Association Symposium Banquet for another bicentennial moment.
But what was the party of Lincoln up to? That is the Republican Party. Where were the red balloons and party hats? Did anyone order a cake? Does the RNC lay any claims on the legacy and Presidency of the great emancipator; the man who put everything on the line to preserve the union, i.e. the United States?
So I did a search and found a statement by Michael Steele, the first African American RNC chair, on YouTube.
The party of Lincoln’s time was what the RNC today would probably label as a liberal, left wing party. Before FDR, the Republican Party was the party of choice for most African Americans. Give people freedom and a vote, and you’ve built your political base. Democrats at the time were catering to the poltiics and sentiments of the old South which seems to hint at how the term “Dixiecrat” was coined. LBJ threw the Dixiecrats into the Republican base when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Look through the roll call through the late 1950s and you’ll find many African Americans registered as Republicans, and that includes prominent civil rights activists. Some of these Republicans “pal’ed around” with Socialists and other political hot numbers spewing radical ideas of equality, equal access, and equal rights.
I find it very interesting in Michael Steele’s YouTube Lincoln bicentennial moment that he wants to build on the party of Lincoln vs. the Party of Ronald Reagan. If Steele doesn’t allow himself to carry the water for the old divisive and destructive ideas of his party; if he doesn’t play the game of black-on-black racially motivated attacks by the powers that be who want to hide their racist faces behind the black face (a classic tactic that probably doesn’t work the same way in the 21st century), who knows? Steele may be his party’s next emancipator.
Send in George Clinton – “Free your mind….”
After the swearing-in ceremonies, Barack Obama and Joesph Biden will enjoy their first meal as President and Vice President of the United States in the U.S. Capitol’s Statutary Hall. This is the hall where various life-size statues of state political figures circle the great room. It’s the same room where I accompanied a group of DC high school for a leadership program for the purpose of stoking their understanding of who has the real power. They came away saying “why does Jefferson Davis get a full-lenghth statue in the Capitol and Martin Luther King only gets a bust.”
The Inaugural luncheon is a tradition. The official U.S. Senate Inauguration website has posted the luncheon details from the china (a replica of the china selected by Mary Todd Lincoln for her husband Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration), to the floral arrangments, and the menu with recipes! Try this at home (?)
The luncheon will be a 3-course meal starting with
First Course: Seafood chowder served with a Duckhorn Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Second Course: A Brace of American Birds (pheasant and duck) served with Sour Cherry Chutney and Molasses Sweet Potatoes, paried with Goldeneye, 2005 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
Third Course: Apple Cinnamon Sponge Cake and Sweet Glace paired with Korbel Natural “Special Inaugural Cuvee, California Champagne.
The menu reflects some of the 16th President’s favorite foods. Is Dick Cheney providing the main entree fresh from the wild?
Today I read President-elect Barack Obama will take the Oath of Office January 20, 2009 using the Lincoln Bible. I’m not talking about a versioning of the bible with a Lincoln-like writing style, but the 16th President’s own bible in which he laid his hand when he took the Oath of Office in 1861. The bible is in the collections of the Library of Congress.
2009 is also the Bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.
This brings me to another Lincoln-themed event in January. WHUT (Howard University Television) is looking for 120 teachers to participate in their Looking For Lincoln Teacher Training Workshop Saturday, January 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the WHUT television studios (2222 Fourth Street, NW, Washington, DC). The workshop is FREE and includes lunch, giveaways, and a doorprize.
The workshop introduces the upcoming PBS broadcast of “Looking For Lincoln” as a classroom tool. The documentary is scheduled for national broadcast in February 2009.
“Looking For Lincoln” explores the life and legacy of the man widely considered one of our best and most enigmatic presidents. The documentary, hosted by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (African American Lives, Oprah’s Roots), addresses many of the controversies surrounding Lincoln – race, equality, religion, politics, and depression – by carefully interpreting evidence from those who knew him and those who study him today. A companion book is also available.
The workshop includes:
- Keynote address by Dr. Edna Greene Medford, Lincoln expert and prominent member of Howard University Department of History.
- Overview of LOOKING FOR LINCOLN broadcast program and website.
- Hands-on lesson plan demonstration.
Registration is due January 16, 2009.