By Edward Epstein
January 4, 2024
Everyone's invited to enjoy a free event --"Written Then, Spoken Now: African American Letters to Lincoln” -- dramatic readings and a discussion based on African Americans' letters to President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 2.
The performance is based on two books by historian Jonathan W. White, To Address You As My Friend: African American Letters to Abraham Lincoln and A House Built By Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House. Those books brought to life the feelings that black Americans had for Lincoln, the 16th president, but the first who they felt displayed concern for them. They wrote him letters, often seeking redress of grievances, and visited him at the White House.
White, a professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and vice chairman of the Lincoln Forum, is an exceptionally prolific author of books about Lincoln and the Civil War. 17 books in all. He's even getting into children's books, with My Day with Abe Lincoln coming out in February.
Actors will read excerpts from White's two books about Lincoln's relations with African Americans and the author will discuss his books and other topics with Edna Greene Medford, Lincoln Group member and history professor emeritus at Howard University; and Denise J. Hart, a Howard professor who teaches playwriting and scriptwriting. She helped prepare the actors for the performance. Greene Medford wrote the foreward to To Address You as My Friend.
"White, with an expert editor’s touch, has deftly assembled a wonderfully rich and fascinating mosaic of the hopes, dreams, and frustrations of African Americans during the Civil War," historian Brian Dirck wrote in a review of To Address You as My Friend in the Civil War Monitor in 2022.
You can reserve your free tickets at bit.ly/FordsWTSN!