As part of the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, Hinds Community College will host a prestigious national traveling exhibit from Aug. 12 through Sept. 20 at the McLendon Library on the Raymond Campus.
Along with the 1,000-foot exhibit, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” Mary Beth Applin, dean of Learning Resources, is planning a series of programs during September, spring boarding off the exhibit.
“We have a terrific line-up of performances, lectures and activities that is sure to appeal to everyone. We think students, faculty/staff, local schools and community members will find something fascinating to see or do at our library while learning about one of our greatest presidents,” she said.
As part of the exhibit, Hinds is extending a specific invitation to schools to book trips to see the exhibit and attend some of the special programs. The national project has curriculum materials and other materials aimed at students.
The exhibit was organized by the National Constitution Center and the American Library Association and is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Among the activities being planned in September to partner with the exhibit are dramatic readings from diaries by Jackson State’s Theater group MadDrama, music and dancing by Hinds’ Jubilee Singers and Montage Dancers, intriguing examinations of civil war constitutional issues from Mississippi College’s debate team, and various lectures on the war, slavery and Lincoln’s legacy from local historians and guest speakers.
According to the American Library Association website, the exhibit “brings into focus the constitutional crises at the heart of this great conflict. The exhibition identifies three crises — the secession of the Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties — and explores how Lincoln sought to meet these political and constitutional challenges.”
The traveling exhibition content is organized into six thematic sections:
• The Introduction lays out the three critical questions—concerning slavery, secession, and civil liberties—facing the nation in 1860, when Lincoln was elected President with less than 40 percent of the vote.
• “Oath of Office” focuses on Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, at a time when the Constitution was being challenged and the United States was falling apart. The new president promised that the government would not attack the South if the South did not attack the Union, but he also took a solemn oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution.
• “Divided” asks the question, “Are we a single nation or a confederacy of sovereign and separate states?” Lincoln believed that his inaugural oath compelled him to preserve the Union, that secession was unconstitutional and undemocratic. The Southern states believed that they were under attack.
• “Bound” reflects the nation’s struggle with the problem of slavery, with which it had been vexed since America’s founding. The Constitution left the matter of slavery in the hands of the individual states. But many asked, “How can a country founded on the belief that ‘all men are created equal’ tolerate slavery?”
• “Dissent” raises the question: “Must civil liberties give way to save the Union?” In face of the chaos and danger facing Lincoln and the Union, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus—the constitutional provision that protects citizens of the United States against arbitrary arrests.
• “Legacy” focuses on the Gettysburg Address and on the work yet to be done to achieve the ideals of equality, freedom, and democracy articulated in the Constitution and cherished by Lincoln. Acknowledging the shortcomings of his own age, Lincoln challenged future generations of Americans to continue the work of realizing our nation’s highest ideals. Using self-stick notes on an exhibition panel, visitors are invited to answer the question, “Has America lived up to the ideals Lincoln fought for?”
“Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” a traveling exhibition for libraries, was organized by the National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The traveling exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.