Tag Archives: Can You Walk Away?

Former First Lady Laura Bush Endorses Cottage Exhibit

Mrs. Laura Bush visiting the Cottage in 2007.

By Alison Mitchell

Mrs. Laura Bush, a Trustee and vocal supporter of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, first visited President Lincoln’s Cottage in November 2007 prior to our Grand Opening. Mrs. Bush recently endorsed our latest exhibit, Can Your Walk Away?, stating: “This is the ideal year to visit President Lincoln’s Cottage, the very place where Lincoln nurtured and developed the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago. The Cottage’s current exhibit, Can You Walk Away?, provides an invaluable lens through which the public can view our country’s ongoing struggle with slavery – both in the historical context and in present day trafficking.  Exhibits like this are evidence of the way historic places can shape the way we live in the present.” We are grateful for Mrs. Bush’s continued work to raise awareness about both historic preservation and the modern crisis of slavery.

Alison Mitchell is the Development Coordinator at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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The Power of Partnerships

partners in exhibit

In the exhibit, from left to right: Callie Hawkins, President Lincoln’s Cottage Curator of Education, Elizabeth Eubank, Content Developer at Howard + Revis Design Services, Tracy Revis, Principal at Howard + Revis Design Services, and Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris Project.

By Kerry Plunkett

What is a partner? From the time of kindergarten arts and crafts projects to marriage, it’s one of those words that we hear all of our lives. From spouses, to superheroes, and now historic sites, partners are those who share and support each other in a joint endeavor or cause. Historic sites can take a cue from our favorite childhood superheroes, because now we all have a chance to stand against a silent problem.

This past February, the special exhibit, “Can You Walk Away? Modern Slavery: Human Trafficking in the United States,” opened at President Lincoln’s Cottage. This exhibit is an expression of the power partnerships can give to historic sites. We hear all the time that two heads are better than one, right? With the help of Polaris Project, the world’s leading organization working to combat human trafficking, “Can You Walk Away?” offers visitors a call to action. Polaris Project CEO, Bradley Myles, described his hope saying “we believe strongly that with a big enough movement and enough actors joining this fight while using the right strategies to intervene, we can eradicate human trafficking.”[1] Using the inspiration of President Lincoln, we too can now become a partner in working against modern slavery.

But, why consult and collaborate with partners to meet this goal? It’s no secret that teamwork is an important aspect of life, from school projects, to marketing teams, to museum leaders. President Lincoln’s Cottage and Polaris Project can serve as an example for what goals and legacies successful partners can achieve. Slavery has taken on a modern and more hidden life since the time of President Lincoln. It is difficult for Americans to believe such acts still happen in our country today. How can we end the silence? By building on the hope visitors leave the Cottage with, and gathering as many voices as we can to speak out. Not only is 2012 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, but President Obama declared this past January Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Voices are what make the difference. President Lincoln used his oratory to speak against the issue of slavery. Today, Polaris Project and President Lincoln’s Cottage invite visitors to use their voices to do the same. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little more powerful, maybe even the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Have you discovered how many slaves work for you? Take the online survey to discover how widespread and pervasive modern slavery is at: http://slaveryfootprint.org.

Ms. Plunkett is a Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

[1] The interview with Bradley Myles, and Callie Hawkins, President Lincoln’s Cottage Curator of Education, is available online at http://www.lincolncottage.org/canyouwalkaway.html.

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“Can You Walk Away?” Opens Today!

A visitor reads Lincoln’s words of wisdom in “Can You Walk Away?”

The long-awaited exhibit on modern slavery in America opens to the public today at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Can You Walk Away? challenges people’s perceptions on this growing humanitarian issue at the very place President Lincoln developed his ideas on freedom in America 150 years ago.

Over 12 million men, women, and children are held in slavery across the globe today, more than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. “Plenty of Americans see slavery as an issue that was resolved during the Civil War or by the 13th Amendment in the war’s aftermath, not as a growing humanitarian crisis in our own country,” said Erin Carlson Mast, Director of President Lincoln’s Cottage. “But fundamentally, the same issue is at stake: People’s right to freedom.”

To create this exhibit, President Lincoln’s Cottage partnered with Polaris Project, a non-profit organization in Washington, DC that focuses on eliminating modern slavery and human trafficking in the United States and around the world. Polaris Project operates the National Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) that has received about 45,000 calls since 2007. Worldwide Documentaries, Inc., and The mtvU Against Our Will Campaign contributed also content for the exhibit.

Visitors hear testimonies from survivors of human trafficking, learn about the state of slavery today, and have a chance to become a modern abolitionist and join in movement to stop this crisis. The exhibit is open through August 2013 in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Mon-Sat 9:30am – 4:30pm, Sun 10:30am-4:30pm. The exhibit is free of charge but visitor discretion is advised as the exhibit contains graphic content that may be too sensitive for some guests.

To read the AP article on the exhibit click here.

Visit the exhibit site: www.lincolncottage.org/canyouwalkaway.html

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Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

By Zachary Siegel

On Abraham Lincoln’s 203rd birthday we continue to celebrate his legacy as a tremendous figure in the struggle for human rights. Since the year of his death, every generation of Americans has chosen to celebrate Abraham Lincoln in one way or another. Dependent on the world in which they lived, millions of Americans have taken a moment away from their lives to pause and reflect on the man who reunited a divided country while fighting for human equality. Whether a symbol of their struggle, a fountain of ideas, or a model for change, Americans have found ways to incorporate Abraham Lincoln’s legacy and teachings into their own lives.

In 1909, amidst one of the largest waves of immigration to the United States, President Theodore Roosevelt announced plans to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday with the first piece of American currency to have a president adorn the face. President Roosevelt soon accepted the work of a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant, Victor David Brenner, for the new coin creating the Lincoln Penny. In the words of the great American author and Lincoln admirer, Carl Sandburg, “The common, homely face of Honest Abe looks good on the penny, the coin of the common folk from whom he came to whom he belongs.”[1] Sandburg’s common folk included those millions of immigrants entering through the gates of Ellis Island, coming to America looking for opportunities, looking for the liberty that Abraham Lincoln strove to protect.

Fifty years later a new generation sought to honor Lincoln in their own way. In 1959, the Sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the country united behind the first federal organization created for Lincoln commemoration. Fueled by the growing power of the Civil Rights movement, Lincoln’s birthday became a day of commemoration and remembrance of America’s greatest champion for civil rights.

Today, we find Lincoln’s influence in every day of our lives. At President Lincoln’s Cottage, we reach across three generations to teach about how Lincoln and the Cottage play a role in our past, but also in our future. Opening on February 17 is the Cottage’s newest special exhibit, Can You Walk Away?: Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in the United States.  This special exhibit challenges perceptions of slavery in America today and raises awareness of a growing humanitarian crisis. By posing the question, “can you walk away?” this exhibit inspires people to engage with the modern abolitionist movement and to see that slavery is an ongoing issue that requires big thinking and direct action, just as it did in Lincoln’s time.

[1] Golden, Harry. Carl Sandburg. The Word Publishing Company (New York: 1961). 246.

Mr. Siegel is a Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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New Exhibit Opening Presidents Day Weekend

On February 17, 2012, President Lincoln’s Cottage will open Can You Walk Away?, an exhibit on modern slavery and human trafficking in the United States. This exhibit is part of a year-long commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln developing the Emancipation Proclamation at the Cottage. It will challenge perceptions of slavery in America today and raise awareness of a growing humanitarian crisis. By posing the question “can you walk away?” this exhibit will inspire people to engage with the modern abolitionist movement and to see that slavery is an ongoing issue that requires big thinking and direct action, just as it did in Lincoln’s time.

Can You Walk Away? will be located in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center at President Lincoln’s Cottage from February 17, 2012 through August 31, 2013. Visitor Center hours are Monday – Saturday 9:30am-4:30pm and Sunday 10:30am-4:30pm. For more information, visit our website: http://www.lincolncottage.org

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Latest Edition of the Cottage Courier

The latest edition of the Cottage Courier is now available on our website! Stay up-to-date with all that is happening at President Lincoln’s Cottage by subscribing to receive our quarterly e-newsletter.

In the fall edition, readers can preview two upcoming exhibits that will be on view in the Robert H. Smith Vistior Education Center at the Cottage. “Seat of War: A Panoramic View of Civil War Washington through Historic Prints” shows rarely seen prints from the Cottage collection. This exhibit is on view for just over a month from December 7, 2011 – January 15, 2012. “Can You Walk Away?” will take an indepth look at the state of slavery today, 150 years after all legal forms of slavery were abolished.

The Cottage 2012 ornament – “Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation” – is now on sale. This ornament commemorates the 1862 preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, much of which was drafted at the Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home. This beautiful commemorative ornament features the 1957 painting “Abraham Lincoln Writing the Emancipation Proclamation” by Jes W. Schlaikjer. The 1862/2012 ornament is the second in the President Lincoln’s Cottage Sesquicentennial Series. Collect all five!

Readers also do not want to miss the history article Lincoln’s Other Proclamation: The Creation of the First Annual Thanksgiving Day Tradition by Zachary Klitzman.

Read the Cottage Courier HERE.

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