January 14, 2009

The Road from Lincoln to Obama: The Constitution and The New Birth of Freedom

The congressionally-declared theme of the inaugural ceremony of President-elect Obama, "A New Birth of Freedom," commemorates President Lincoln's vision in the Gettysburg Address. Developing this theme, ACS, together with NAACP LDF, MALDEF and Constitutional Accountability Center, co-sponsored a program on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 entitled The Road from Lincoln to Obama: The Constitution and the New Birth of Freedom. Leading historians, constitutional law experts and civil rights leaders discussed how the "new birth of freedom" that Lincoln spoke of at Gettysburg took form in the Civil War Amendments, which protected liberty and equality, how those Amendments have been interpreted (and in some cases misinterpreted) since their ratification, and how their promise can be fulfilled today. The panel featured: * Moderator, Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania * Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University * John Payton, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund * John Trasviña, President and General Counsel, MALDEF * Doug Kendall, Founder and President, Constitutional Accountability Center