Giving Meaning to Freedom on Nation's Inauguration Day

A wide-ranging program highlighted the convergence of MLK Day, the Presidential Inauguration and the Emancipation Proclamation at the Amistad Center and Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.

January 21, 2013 will be remembered as a day of remarkable convergence by those who spent the afternoon at the Amistad Center for Art & Culture and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.

A multi-faceted program, EP150, was developed by the Amistad Center and included observations by community leaders, award-winning student poetry and a range of musical selections.  The centerpiece was the landmark Emancipation Proclamation’s 150th anniversary which was observed and celebrated, as President Abraham Lincoln was reenacted and recalled. (Including an in-character recitation of the Emancipation Proclamation and a memorable mock debate.)

The local program began after the second inaugural address of President Barack Obama, televised from Washington, DC. Attendees listened as he declared that “preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action,” having reaffirmed his oath of office with two Bibles – one previously used by Lincoln, the other by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The historic Wadsworth Atheneum, the nation’s oldest public art museum (pre-dating the Civil War), invited the community in at no charge to reflect on the life’s work of Dr. King on the anniversary of his birth. 

The day-long kid-friendly programming included a recorded video of the renowned “I Have A Dream” speech, 50 years ago this summer, played within sight of an audience of local school children – many of whom had just completed a special activity – creating visual remembrances (hand-drawn lunch bags) honoring the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown last month.

The most poignant moments, given the intersection of historic figures and events, may have come in the poetic words delivered by about a half-dozen local students, winning participants in “What Emancipation/Freedom Means To Me” a competition sponsored by the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission, the Amistad Center for Art & Culture, and the state’s African American Affairs Commission, for grade-schoolers through high school.

There’s more to the story, at http://ctbythenumbers.info/2013/01/21/in-hartford-on-inauguration-day-giving-meaning-to-freedom/

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