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ALBC Town Hall – USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)
Race, Freedom and Equality of Opportunity:  Lincoln, Leadership, and the Military
February 28, 2009

USS Abraham Lincoln CVN-72
Everett, Washington

WASHINGTON – The goal of completing the nation’s “unfinished work,” as Abraham Lincoln challenged us at Gettysburg, remains as yet unaccomplished.  The crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln explored how the 16th president’s leadership during the Civil War still offers lessons to the armed forces in their defense of the American ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality of opportunity.

The Feb. 27th town hall meeting on board the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was the first post-birthday event in a year-long series of civic, cultural, and educational programs planned by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission across the country.  The theme of the town hall focused on “Lincoln, Leadership, and the Military.”

It was the second of eleven town hall meetings scheduled by the ALBC under the broad theme of “Lincoln’s Legacy: Race, Freedom, and Equality of Opportunity.”

In addition to the give-and-take of the town hall, the Lincoln’s crew heard the world-premiere of “Letters From Lincoln,” a newly commissioned jazz work by Anthony Davis, composer of operas X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X; Under the Double Moon; and Amistad, and the music for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches.

“Jazz influences the composition,” said Davis, “and jazz is certainly an expression of freedom.  Part of the way you can look at the piece is by looking at the creation of our country and its improvisation.  Part of Lincoln’s ability to communicate his message was his ability to improvise – taking them from what they believed and moving them.”

A congressional delegation, led by U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), also visited the carrier and participated in the town hall meeting.

The program, produced in cooperation with the aircraft carrier’s commanders and the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership, included:

  • Matthew Pinsker, history professor at Dickinson College and author of Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home;
  • Robin Read, president of the National Foundation for Women Legislators;
  • Joseph P. Reidy, Howard University history professor renowned for his scholarly work on African American sailors in the Civil War Navy; and
  • Donald Scott, retired U.S. Army general, and an expert on military leadership.

Adam Green, associate professor of history at the University of Chicago whose work has focused on African American and U.S. history and comparative racial politics, moderated.

The Stennis Center, with locations in Starkville, Miss., and Washington, DC, conducts an ongoing program to foster understanding between prospective aircraft carrier commanding officers and Members of Congress and senior-level congressional staff who work on national security issues.

The USS Abraham Lincoln recently completed a seven-month deployment in the Persian Gulf.  The carrier is currently docked at its home port in Everett, Wash., for routine maintenance.

The ALBC Town Hall Series is made possible with support from the Fetzer Institute.

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USS Abraham Lincoln Town Hall Co-Conveners

The ALBC would like to thank the following co-conveners for their support in making the USS Abraham Lincoln town hall a success.