Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln


WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele today released the following statement on the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP:

“On the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, I am honored to join in commemorating the legacy of a man who insisted that this nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, live up to that promise. “Abraham Lincoln grew up in grinding poverty.

He had almost no formal education. Yet armed with an unwavering belief in our nation’s founding ideals, he led this country through its gravest crisis and ensured that this nation had a new birth of freedom.“I also want to extend my warmest congratulations to the NAACP, which was founded one hundred years ago today, on the centennial of the birth of our country’s first Republican President, President Abraham Lincoln.

Over the past century, the NAACP has championed the cause of civil rights. For that we are deeply grateful. “From the Middle Passage to the march for Civil Rights, the fight for Liberty remains true. My ancestors like the ancestors of countless African-Americans were among the very first Americans. Our stake in this great nation is celebrated in the legacies of President Lincoln and NAACP.

“As the leader of the Party of Lincoln, I realize that we bear a special responsibility to build on the great work of President Lincoln, and all those Americans who have devoted their lives to the cause of liberty. In honor of their past sacrifices, and for the sake of our future generations, I pledge that the Republican Party will work tirelessly every day to make our founding ideals a reality.”


Peace said...

Michael Steele, I am happy you are now the RNC Chairman but please read this article and reconsider the use of the term African American. Leave those hyphenated ethnciities and races to the liberals.

Hold the Hyphen
Why African-American does not apply to me.

Black Americans can bask in the glow of a newfound progressiveness this Black History Month. And our first black president also happens to be our first African-American president. Black and African-American I can't help dwelling on those two descriptors and the weight they carry in defining us.

I'm brown, thank you. But I'll settle for black. It's more than semantics. Its semasiology. Once upon a time, we were niggers, coloreds, Negroes and then Afro-Americans. And so I understand the need for some blacks to refer to themselves as African-American, sort of. They want to feel connected to a population reflected in their own faces.

In America, racism is like a water spot on silverware at a cheap diner; it just won't go away. And just when you think you can breathe a little, the three-headed monster rears its ugly head to remind you who you are, where you live and the inescapable reality of what your skin color represents in this society.

Black people have shaped the United States through culture and science and the civil rights movement yet as an aggregate we still face more injustice and inequality than any other group of Americans. As a nation, as a people and as a society we've come a long way, but in terms of racial equality there is much left to do.

I am constantly searching for answers as to how my caf-au-lait self fits into an overwhelmingly white world. But the use of the word African conjoined with American leaves me empty. There are 54 countries in Africa. Which one would be mine?

I have a friend whose father is Nigerian and mother is black American, which makes her literally African-American. But she refers to herself as black.

I'm American. Period. I've never been to Africa. I hope to visit one day, but I also want to visit Europe. Not because I have the blood of English, Irish and Scots running through my veins, but because I'm interested in traveling to new places, seeing and experiencing new cultures and people.

Most black Americans are of mixed-race heritage, which manifests itself in different ways in our external appearance. Some of us are light enough that we look white; others dark as coal. But we are Americans.

I know as much about Africa as I do the metric system, the Euro or the discord in Gaza. What I do know is that Africa, like America, has its challenges related to race and ethnicity, politics, economics and education. Rwanda is still working through the effects of the 2004 genocide; civil wars rage in Congo, Darfur and Sudan; Malaria and AIDS are robbing babies of their lives, and in 28 countries, genital mutilation of young women is considered an acceptable practice. And for black Americans, it is disheartening that for most of us the trail back to Africa goes cold at a plantation or tenant farm somewhere in the American South.
Beyond that we can only speculate about which country, which tribe or which language we might have been linked to if the transatlantic slave trade had never happened. But we will never really know. Rather than romanticize over DNA tests, we should step back and take stock of the richness of life that our ancestors created for us on this continent. All of it was built from nothing but their blood, sweat and determination to overcome horrific circumstances.

There is nowhere to go back to. Our home is here. It's called America, and we are Americans.

Jennifer E. Mabry is a writer living in Colorado.


Anonymous said...

way to over generalize. i am liberal and feel the exact same way. i'm an american that happens to be brown. i have more in common with an american culture than an african culture. i don't know of any family members in africa but i have plenty of family here in america. being labeled african american is much better than colored or negro but i would just prefer american.

also, this was a nice article on cnn about the relationship between lincoln and douglass.

Denney Crane said...

The most unpopular President of his century, but he was right!

The sacrifice he made was worth it. There is no greater patriotism.