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Remembering a civil rights milestone
Lincoln Home and Old State Capitol to commemorate 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Act

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[June 18, 2014]  SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site are partnering to present a series of five programs honoring the 50th Anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The first program will take place on Thursday, June 5, with a new program being held every week through the anniversary on Wednesday, July 2.

On Thursday, June 5, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Lincoln Home National Historic Site will host a panel discussion of highly regarded scholars from a variety of academic specialties who will bring their perspectives on the importance of the Civil Rights act and its connections to the earlier Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Panelists include Matthew Holden, Jr., the Wepner Distinguished Professor in Political Science at the University of Illinois Springfield, and author of The White Man’s Burden; David Joens, Director of the Illinois State Archives and author of From Slave to State Legislator: John W. E. Thomas, Illinois' First African American Legislator; and, Angela Winand, Curatorial Assistant at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum who is also working on a study of representations of race and gender in the virtual world of Second Life. Samuel P. Wheeler, Historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, will serve as moderator.

On Thursday, June 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Lincoln Home National Historic Site will host acclaimed Civil Rights scholar and author Yohuru Williams who will present “In the Shadow of Lincoln: The Civil War and the Long Civil Rights Movement.” Dr. Williams is the History Department Chair and the Director of Black Studies at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut and is also Chief Historian for the Jackie Robinson Foundation and Museum in New York, New York. Professor Williams is the author of Black Politics/White Power: Civil Rights, Black Power; Black Panthers in New Haven; and, Teaching U.S. History Beyond the Textbook: Six Investigative Strategies, Grades 5-12. Dr. Williams is also a founder of Yohuru Williams & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in strategic research, dynamic support and tactical assistance for non-profit, for-profit and educational organizations.

On Thursday, June 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Lincoln Home National Historic Site will host author Clay Risen. Mr. Risen is the author of the recently published and acclaimed The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act. He is also an editor at The New York Times op-ed section. Prior to that Mr. Risen was an assistant editor at The New Republic and the founding managing editor of the noted quarterly Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. His recent freelance work has appeared in such journals as The Atlantic, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post. Mr. Risen is also the author of A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination and American Whiskey, Bourbon and Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit.

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On Thursday, June 26, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., the Old State Capitol State Historic Site will be the venue for a dramatic portrayal of the Civil War to Civil Rights struggle as actors present the story of freedom through the perspectives of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Acclaimed Lincoln actor Fritz Klein will portray Abraham Lincoln and tell the story of the struggle to bring freedom to a nation torn apart by Civil War. Celebrated King actor Jim Lucas will pick up the drama as he presents an impactful powerful portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and conveys King’s dedication to continue the nation’s fight for freedom through the powerful words of King’s speeches.

On Wednesday, July 2, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., the 50th anniversary date of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Old State Capitol State Historic Site will host a program that will commemorate the historic legislation. A variety of special guests and dignitaries will reflect on the landmark legislation and will recount their personal stories in their fight for Civil Rights, including United States Attorney James A. Lewis. The program will also include musical presentations inspired by the long Civil War to Civil Rights struggles.


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