By Edward Epstein
March 29, 2022
The Lincoln Group's plans to commemorate the centennial of the Lincoln Memorial this May and its search for descendants of a key participant in the events of May 1922 are the subject of a column in today's Washington Post.
Columnist John Kelly wrote about Robert Russa Moton, who a century ago was the leader of the all-black Tuskegee Institute, the Alabama college founded by Booker T. Washington. Moton was the sole African-American scheduled to speak at the dedication of the new memorial on the National Mall on May 30, 1922. When Moton submitted his text to the event's organizers, he got a telegram from Chief Justice William Howard Taft almost ordering Moton to cut out portions of his planned speech chastising America for not living up to Abraham Lincoln's belief in extending rights to all Americans, including African-Americans.
Moton complied, and delivered a sanitized speech at the event, at which racial segregation was strictly enforced.
The Lincoln Group plans to make Moton's excised words part of the program it is co-sponsoring with the National Park Service at 10 a.m. on Sunday May 22 on the historic steps of the memorial. The group would like to honor any Moton descendants that can be found by letting them know that he will be a big part of the program. If they attend, the group plans to recognize them.
Moton had five children with his second wife Jenny -- Catherine, Charlotte, Robert Jr., Allen and Jennie. Some of them had children. If any of Moton's descendants are out there, contact the Lincoln Group at Lincolnian.org.
Kelly's column is at https://wapo.st/3NG4fxZ.
The Lincoln Group's memorial centennial events are being co-sponsored by the Lincoln Forum.