Erin Carlson Mast
Foundation President & CEO
Congratulations to the 10 winners of the No Malice Film Contest! The contest recognizes the winning entries by artists ages 11-21 who created outstanding short films as part of Healing Illinois, a racial healing initiative of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust. Read the full press release here.
Last month, we held a webinar on Juneteenth, sometimes referred to as Black Independence Day, with Curtis Harris. If you missed the program, you can view the recording here. We noted that when it comes to Juneteenth, July 4th, and other holidays, we are not celebrating the day something was achieved but rather a day something was declared. It is a reminder that these are milestones in an unending process of realizing greater freedom and equality.
Lincoln pointed out the changing interpretations of the Declaration of Independence in his July 10, 1858 speech in Chicago. There, he explained that what unites us in this country is not ancestry but the belief articulated in the Declaration of Independence. He told the audience, if people, “ look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are.” He referred to that belief as the “electric cord” that links the hearts of those who love liberty, and he decried efforts to interpret the idea in ways that excluded versus included people.
What we’re reading in July:
“THE MASSACHUSETTS FIFTY-FOURTH by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a noted author and an activist for abolition, women’s suffrage, and temperance. The poem was published in The Anglo-African, a few months after the regiment’s failed July 1863 assault on the Confederate Battery Wagner. Harper’s poem declares, “Oh! Not in vain those heroes fell,/Amid those hours of fearful strife;/ Each dying heart poured out a balm/To heal a wounded nation’s life.”
What Abraham Lincoln read in July:
One month before the Dakota War of 1862, Lincoln reportedly borrowed a number of books from the Library of Congress including, The History of Minnesota: from the Earliest French Explorers to the Present Time, by Edward D. Neill. A couple of years later, after having served as an army chaplain to a regiment in Minnesota and at a hospital in Philadelphia, Neill served as an assistant secretary to the President. Neill reflected that Lincoln’s, “capacity for work was wonderful. While other men were taking recreation through the sultry months of summer he remained in his office attending to the wants of the nation. He was never an idler or a lounger. Each hour he was busy.”
Noble Johnson, in celebration of the No Malice Film Contest winners. Johnson was a successful actor, film producer, and president of The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, “considered the first all-black movie production unit in the country.” His company produced “race films,” a genre of films in the United States “consisting of films produced for black audiences, featuring black casts.” The genre itself and Johnson’s career both spanned from 1915 to the early 1950s.
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