‘King Abraham Africanus’?: Lincoln Review
by Stephane Dunn | special to NewBlackMan (in Exile)
When I was in college, one of those too rare truly provocative discussions occurred over an assigned reading about the nineteenth century in America. I don’t remember the reading, but I do remember that it led to some discussion of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was discussed unquestionably as the ‘Great Emancipator.’ I dared to contradict, having not too long before read some books that gave me a history lesson I hadn’t gotten in all of my middle or high school years. I suggested that the Emancipation was less about a racially progressive Lincoln and more about saving the country and that Lincoln was no great supporter of racial equality or black folk generally. It got heated in the classroom. A girl actually cried she was so disturbed by what she saw as my blasphemy against noble Lincoln. I felt badly and was disturbed as well as further fascinated by the enigma that I think Lincoln remains. The classroom incident heightened my consciousness of Lincoln’s tall complicated, controversial historical shadow.