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Howard Conference


Race and Emancipation in the Age of Lincoln

April 16-18, 2009

Howard University - Washington, DC

Planners for Lincoln’s centennial in 1909 and sesquicentennial in 1959 overlooked the central issues of slavery and race.  In our times, we cannot.  We need to understand how Lincoln’s views of slavery and race may or may not have been similar to most of his contemporaries’.  In order to understand our history more completely, we also need to compare American emancipation to the status of freed slaves throughout the rest of the world.  

In conjunction with the District of Columbia’s annual Emancipation Day celebrations in 2009, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and Howard University co-sponsored the conference “Race and Emancipation in the Age of Lincoln.”

The conference explored three broad themes over the course of three days: 

  • The challenges to slavery;
  • Emancipation and revolution;
  • The meaning of emancipation
April 16, 2009: “Challenges to Slavery”

Sessions explored the worldwide movement against slavery, challenges to slavery by the slaves themselves, and the intellectual roots of abolitionism. 

April 17, 2009: “Emancipation and Revolution”

Participants compared the efficacy and extent of emancipations throughout the world and within the United States.  A special session focused on emancipation in the District of Columbia.

April 18, 2009: The “Meaning of Emancipation”

Sessions discussed African-American memory and emancipation, the connection between the Lincoln centennial and the founding of the NAACP in 1909, and the art and music of emancipation.  Panelists included both senior scholars and new and emerging scholars. 

Public evening sessions:

  • Keynote address by distinguished author, Toni Morrison, on the topic of Lincoln and freedom;
  • Program held at the Lincoln Memorial commemorating Lincoln’s role in emancipation; and
  • Night of spirituals and gospel music related to emancipation.

All other sessions took place at Howard University's School of Business Auditorium. 


Watch video from the conference >>>

Download the full Howard Conference program >>>