Today is the 200th anniversary of the births of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. I didn’t know until recently that they were born on the exact same day. This connection makes sense, given their shared staunch opposition to slavery. Today is also the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP.

For much of my childhood in Illinois, Lincoln’s birthday—not Washington’s—was a no-school holiday. (“Land of Lincoln,” you know.) I was a little sorry to see it merged into President’s Day: Lincoln was pretty amazing and deserves his own day, I think. And it goes without saying (*cough* last eight years *cough*) that some presidents don’t merit much celebration.

So as you move through today, pause for a moment to reflect on the efforts of those who have worked to dispel prejudice based on so-called race*. We’ve got a long way to go—but we’ve come a long way already, and that gives me hope.

*As an anthropologist by training, I have to mention that race is a social construct, not a biological fact.

6 Responses to “Anniversaries”

  1. Shannahon 12 Feb 2009 at 1:09 am

    Thank you for the reminder.

    And isn’t it momentous and wonderful to have so many great anniversaries together?

  2. Chrison 12 Feb 2009 at 9:17 am

    I had no idea!

  3. Melissaon 12 Feb 2009 at 11:13 am

    My kids do not have school today (here in Springfield, Illinois) and we are heading downtown for a few of the many Lincoln events. President Obama will be in town for a banquet this evening. The 1908 race riot that prompted the formation of the NAACP also occurred in Springfield. Obviously, the riot is not an event to celebrate, but certainly important to remember. It is nice to have a day to reflect on our city’s history and teach our children about Lincoln, Darwin, politics, and “race.”

  4. MACon 12 Feb 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I do have to point out that even though the folks in Illinois are always trying to claim Lincoln as their own, he was born here in Kentucky, near the tiny town of Hodgenville. His family roots run deeply into Kentucky (and Virginia since Kentucky was created from Virginia).

    So, the real party is in Hodgenville, Kentucky, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.

  5. Katie Jon 12 Feb 2009 at 8:57 pm

    A good day indeed.

  6. Marshaon 15 Feb 2009 at 3:17 pm

    @Melissa: Did Springfield never stop celebrating Lincoln’s birthday as a holiday, or was it recently reinstated? (And look at you, putting quotation marks around the word “race”—you anthropologist, you! Heh.)
    @MAC: This reminds me of how both Ohio and North Carolina are feuding over which is the true “birthplace of aviation.” :)