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Reflections on Lincoln…in Rwanda

By Debbie Jackson

Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

(Editor's note: Debbie Jackson, the Lincoln Group's Vice President for Special Events, is currently visiting Rwanda and penned these thoughts from there.)

The Lincoln Group of D.C. Study Forum was just finishing its review of Lincoln and Native Americans, when I joined the Zoom discussion from Rwanda – it was a surreal experience. Michael S. Green’s book refers to the country’s “slow genocide” of Native people and the study group developed poignant questions and issues for discussion. Considering that it was the Dr. King weekend added to the reflections. This factor, along with a visit to Rwanda’s Genocide Memorial, resulted in a confluence of socially conscious events.

The Kigali Genocide Memorial puts you face to face with the horror of the massacre. Exhibits include explanations about what led up to the 3-months siege of raging terror in ’94 and the seething mentality stoked by colonial pressures that resulted in over a million lives butchered, another bloody genocide in the world record. The photo shown above. from the memorial, is an artistic representation of the orphans resulting from the genocide.

What was particularly striking for me was the role of the media in perpetrating the violence and targeting whole swaths of people as the "other,” demeaning, targeting friends and loved ones alike. Looking at the divisiveness in the states from far away, I hear tiny slivers of that same kind of rhetoric filled with hatred and rage that make me shudder.

Studying Lincoln, reading about his life, league of comrades and teams of rivals, his time, dilemmas and choices gives me hope that there are, have been and indeed will be voices and minds of reason to stifle the insanity and hate.

The LGDC Study Forum is a gateway to understanding Lincoln’s role in transforming the country shackled by the legacy of slavery. Studying Lincoln while commemorating our own “Drum Major for Peace” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and so many others in the ongoing struggle has been a profound experience. Walking the paths in this land dedicated to rebuilding trust and social healing is a way of bearing witness to the worldwide atrocities and to recommit “Never Again.”

To learn more about the Study Forum, click here.

(Photo credit: Debbie Jackson)


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