LawFuel.com – Law Firm News – Jenner & Block Partner Philip L. Harris recently joined an assembly of high-profile historians, professors, teachers, congressmen and journalists to engage in a roundtable discussion addressing the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Among other things, panelists debated President Lincoln’s role in the abolition of slavery following the Civil War and discussed the influence African Americans had on their own emancipation.
“The discussion provokes us to consider what it means to be equal in today’s society,” remarked Mr. Harris at one point during the roundtable, which was organized by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
“People need to talk more honestly about motive for diversity,” Mr. Harris said. “While it has become more common in law firms and businesses to speak about the business case for diversity, this says nothing about equality itself.”
Some panelists spoke of President Lincoln as a revered leader and a visionary, while others questioned his role in the abolition of slavery. Although opinions differed as to President Lincoln’s motives and legacy, the panelists agreed that the image and reference of Abraham Lincoln can be used as an effective tool to impel national progress toward equality.
“I hope that we continue to evolve in the ways we think about race and equality in the same way that Abraham Lincoln did,” concluded Mr. Harris.
The roundtable, which was held at the Chicago History Museum, was moderated by James Horton, an ALBC Commissioner and a Professor of American Studies and History at George Washington University. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., an ALBC Commissioner presented welcoming remarks.
In addition to Mr. Harris, the panelists included: Lerone Bennett, the executive editor emeritus of Ebony and author of Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream; Charles Branham, of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, and emeritus professor at Indiana University; U.S. Representative Danny Davis; Adam Green, an Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University; James R. Grossman, Vice President for Research and Education at Newberry Library; Hermene Hartman, Publisher of N’Digo; Roland Martin, Executive Editor of the Chicago Defender; Cheryl Johnson Odim, Provost & Vice President of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois; Julieanna Richardson, Executive Director of HistoryMakers, a Chicago-based archive of African American video oral histories; Jacqueline Stewart, Associate Professor of Radio, TV & Film at Northwestern University; Dawn Turner Trice, novelist and columnist at the Chicago Tribune; and Kyle Westbrook, an award winning teacher at Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago.
The United States Congress created the ALBC in 2000 to encourage Lincoln observances and to emphasize the contribution of his thoughts, ideas and actions in the period leading up to the Bicentennial of his birth.
This event will air on C-SPAN on Monday, February 19 at 8:00 PM Eastern. The program will re-air twice: February 20 at 12:30 a.m. Eastern (9:30 p.m. Pacific on February 19), and again on February 20, 4:30 a.m. Eastern/1:30 a.m. Pacific.