June 2, 2020
History has a way of making itself known and remembered, in times of great progress and in times of great struggle and injustice, like the present.
At President Lincoln’s Cottage we believe in the power of history, dialogue, and reflection to shape understanding, build empathy, and chart a course for positive action. As Lincoln said, “We can succeed only by concert. It is not ‘can any of us imagine better?’ but, ‘can we all do better?’”
We believe we can. We believe we must.
Our commitment to “continue the fight for freedom” as our mission states, grows stronger each day. We have seen firsthand the power stories and place have to change minds and lives. We will continue to provide new perspectives about the past and the present, to provide platforms for others to share their messages of trauma, of struggle, of resilience, of perseverance, and to convene people–virtually if needs be–to seek new ideas for change.
We are hopeful that we can build on all of the past work even as we chart new territory together. Maybe you had a life-changing discussion on one of our tours. You may have attended our 2012 programs looking at what has–and hasn’t–changed 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Maybe you came to the program where we heard from the descendants of Solomon Northup. You may be one of the students who came to the Cottage from Baltimore to share your hopes and dreams for your city following the civil unrest after the death of Freddie Gray. Perhaps you were in the room at the 2016 Lincoln Ideas Forum “Courage to Confront the Past,” where the collective attendees first tentatively and then, with vigor, declared Black Lives Matter. Perhaps you watched the 2017 Lincoln Ideas Forum “Hate of the Nation” and drew strength from stories from civil rights activist Dorie Ladner and other experts combating racism, hate, xenophobia, and division with compassion, empathy, and unity. Perhaps you are a family member of an incarcerated artist whose art was exhibited in the Cottage this past January for the Iron Cages exhibit. We were there with you, learning and listening alongside you.
However we came to know each other, we are glad you are here.
We will create new ways to do better, together.
With respect and appreciation,
Erin Carlson Mast