29th Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series
NAACP Centennial, Lincoln Bicentennial
Two significant anniversaries in the history of the American republic were commemorated at the 29th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, one of New Jersey’s oldest and most highly esteemed Black History Month events, on Saturday, February 21, 2009.
The 2009 conference, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Lincoln, the NAACP, and the World They Created acknowledged the significance of the bicentennial anniversary of President Lincoln’s birth and the centennial anniversary of the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The keynote Marion Thompson Wright Lectures was given by Deborah Gray White, Board of Governors Professor of History, Rutgers University and Bob Herbert, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. Afternoon speakers included Professor James Oakes, The City University of New York and Professor Kenneth Mack, Harvard Law School. The afternoon presentations were followed by a reception in the Paul Robeson Gallery, featuring entertainment by the Bradford Hayes jazz trio.
The complicated resonance of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in many ways set the stage for the urgency and activism that marked the formation of the NAACP in 1909, according to Dr. Clement Price, director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience and a distinguished service professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark.
"Abraham Lincoln's decision to make the emancipation of the South's slaves an objective of the Union's triumph over the Confederacy was his shining hour as president,” explains Dr. Price. “And the decision by African Americans and white progressives in 1909 to give a deeper meaning to black freedom by starting the NAACP was arguably among the most important decisions of the last century. Lincoln and the NAACP are linked by the precious and mystical cords of history, memory and freedom in American life."