Updated: May 6
By David J. Kent
Monday, May 2, 2022
It’s almost upon us! On Sunday, May 22, 2022, join the Lincoln Group of DC on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the Centennial of the building’s dedication. This is a once-in-a-lifetime 100th anniversary event. Help rededicate this amazing Memorial by celebrating our theme of “Building on Lincoln’s Vision of Unity and Equality.” The program is organized in conjunction with the National Park Service and is co-sponsored by the Lincoln Forum.
The event will include musical performances, dramatic readings, history, art, architecture, a little controversy, and the story of the Memorial's evolution from a unifying force to a symbol of civil rights and our continuing striving for a more perfect union. Lincoln Group president David J. Kent will act as Master of Ceremonies. Robert Pollock of MOLLUS will provide an opening statement and lead the presentation of colors. Charles Sams III, the Director of the National Park Service, is expected to offer a welcome to all the participants. Rev. Dr. Sarah Johnson of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (“Lincoln’s Church”) will provide the invocation, a flash back to when the Church’s Dr. Wallace Radcliffe led prayers at the original dedication. There will also be a special presentation by Dr. Frank Smith of the African American Civil War Museum.
We’ve lined up a stellar cast of speakers. Harold Holzer, the 2015 winner of the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, will recount the historical dynamics that led to the Memorial being built (and why it took 57 years after Lincoln’s assassination). Holzer will also highlight the architectural wonder of the building and the monumental art of the Daniel Chester French statue that dominates its interior. And he should know – Holzer authored the definitive treatise on French’s life and accomplishments in his book, Monument Man.
Next up is Dr. Edna Greene Medford, Professor of History Emeritus at Howard University. Medford is a noted Lincoln expert, especially on issues of emancipation, the topic of her recent book, Lincoln and Emancipation, by Southern Illinois University Press. Medford will trace the evolution of the Memorial from its initial concept of unifying the nation, in particular the reconciliation of the warring parties of the North and South, through its emergence as a symbol of human and civil rights.
Our keynote speaker is Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, president of Tuskegee University. She served many roles at Tuskegee, including three times as interim president, before being officially named the institution’s ninth president in 2020. Morris will refer to Dr. Robert Moton, the second head of Tuskegee (after Booker T. Washington), and a speaker at the original Memorial dedication in 1922. Dr. Moton was partially censored at that event held during the Jim Crow era, and Dr. Morris will examine the progress that has been made since that time. She will also speak directly to the theme of Unity and Equality while leading us into how the lessons of Abraham Lincoln can guide our path into the future.
The program also features musical performances by the United States Marine Band Brass Quintet throughout. Felicia Curry, award-winning stage actress and singer will sing the National Anthem and recreate two selections from famed contralto Marian Anderson’s precedent-setting 1939 concert on the Memorial steps. Among her many credits, Curry recently played Anderson in the Ford’s Theatre production of My Lord, What a Night.
Not to be outdone, we also have award-winning actor Stephen Lang, who most people will recognize from the blockbuster film Avatar (and its current and future sequels). Well-versed in the Civil War, Lang also played major roles in the period films Gods and Generals and the epic Gettysburg, among many other credits. Lang will perform dramatic readings of Lincoln’s own words derived from the two major addresses engraved into the walls of the Memorial, as well as portions of the Edwin Markham tribute poem read by Markham himself at the original dedication in 1922.
This is an event not to be missed. In addition, we have a series of related events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Memorial. Check out our Events page for more details. Plan to spend a long week (heck, make it a week) with the Lincoln Group and Abraham Lincoln.
While we’re at it, the Lincoln Group is extremely grateful to those who have contributed to the production of this event. The time is getting close, but there is always time to offer your additional support to the efforts. Please click on the Donate button above to provide a PayPal donation and for the mailing address to send checks. Thanks in advance!
National Park Service site with Events list for May: