A Look Into Our Name

“Public Sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”

Abraham Lincoln said these words in August 1858. Three years later, he became president of a nation in crisis. 

The crisis centered on the enslavement of Black people.

Antique portrait of US President Abraham Lincoln, circa 1864

“At the crisis he was big enough to be inconsistent – cruel, merciful…protecting slavery, freeing slaves. He was a big, inconsistent, brave man.”

W.E.B. Du Bois, Abraham Lincoln, July 1922

Molding public sentiment as he developed his own views, Lincoln balanced conflicting values, sometimes within a single idea:   

“You and we are different races…Your race suffers very greatly, many of them, by living among us while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side.”

Abraham Lincoln, Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Negroes, August 1862

At his death in 1865, Black leaders called attention to the effect of Lincoln’s “inconsistencies.”

“Lincoln was pre-eminently the white man’s President…You are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his stepchildren… ”

Frederick Douglass, Speech at Dedication of Emancipation Memorial, 1876

Today, in the US and around the world, we grapple with the divisive effects of slavery, racism, and bias. 

It is a struggle for true equality based on trust and real understanding.

“Our democracy’s ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

In our 21st Century, this is the most worthwhile of struggles.

And as Lincoln said, it can only be won with Public Sentiment.

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