Lincoln Memorial and Social Activism Thesis

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Sources: 7
  • Subject: American History
  • Type: Thesis
  • Paper: #84260492

Excerpt from Thesis :

S. The African-American had been accustomed to organizing protests against injustices done to people from his race. In spite of the constant pressure that he was subjected to through arrests and violent acts, Luther had kept his concepts throughout his life.

With the gathering in 1957 of most influential blacks in the U.S., Martin Luther made it clear that a second emancipation act was bound to take place on the site of the Lincoln Memorial. During the year of 1957 the Congress has established a Civil Rights Commission that would provide assistance to civil rights supporters.

The Washington march for jobs and equality took place during the summer of 1963. The meeting proved to be the perfect place for Martin Luther King Jr. To put his ideas to practice as he held his famous "I Have a Dream" speech there. The profoundness of his speech had been amplified by Lincoln's Memorial which stood behind him. The 28th of August, the day that the speech had been taken, was also the centennial anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. The Gettysburg Address, which is graved inside the monument, also celebrated its centennial anniversary at the time. It had been obvious that that had been a great day, and that Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech would be remembered and praised through the generations to follow.

Dr. King spoke to the spectators about several of the issues raised by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. Dr. King's speech had had amazing effects throughout the U.S., as the nation had begun a new fight for equal rights regardless of differences. Martin Luther King Jr. had become a national hero ever since the speech he held in front of the Lincoln Memorial. His birthday became a national holiday for Americans to celebrate in 1986. In 2003, to mark the anniversary of the forty years from his speech, the granite step on which he stood had been engraved with his name and with the words "I HAVE a DREAM."

Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech from 1963 had not been the last civil rights reference made in front of the Lincoln Memorial. People still consider the place to be suitable for events to take place. The Million Man march took place in 1995 at Lincoln's Memorial and the leaders of the march held speeches where they cited the Constitution and asked for "a more perfect union." Their main desire was that all of the people in the U.S. should forget the past and the differences existing between them and that they should unite as one.

The meetings which took place in front of the Lincoln Memorial did not refer only to civil rights. The second half of the twentieth century saw a lot of protests concerning wars that Americans believed should not be conducted by the American government. Hundreds of protests took place near the monument during the Vietnam War with the most notable one taking place in April 1971 when approximately half a million came to express their disagreement concerning the war.

The American public has been presented with various pictures of Abraham Lincoln through the ages. The main message that the creators of the Lincoln Memorial wished to send to the normal visitor was the concept of unity and perfection as they were represented by America's perfect president: Abraham Lincoln.

"The collective memory of Lincoln has changed drastically, to be sure, but it has also endured." (Maurice Halbwachs, Lewis a. Coser, pp. 30) Subsequent to the Civil War and to Lincoln's assassination, the late President's image was that of a humble and honest man that appreciated simplicity and justice.

Time had changed the way that people saw Lincoln, as he became a national hero, and a man that had no defects. However, people still held to the earlier concepts, as they had been aware that, in spite of the fact that several decades had passed from Lincoln's death, he should be honored as a good man, and not as a supernatural being.

Lincoln's image has been used across time in order to provide the American public with confidence and courage. American leaders knew that Lincoln's image needed to be changed depending on the moment in time. "As the U.S. entered World War I, the agents of Lincoln's memory debated which version of the Lincoln image to commemorate -- the epic hero or the folk hero; the strong, dignified Lincoln or the tender-hearted, common man." (Barry Schwartz) as American leaders changed the way in which Lincoln was seen, the public had different perceptions regarding to democracy.

The Lincoln Memorial was, is, and, will be, a monument representing much more than a president and a war. It is a monument representing democracy, unity, and freedom for all.

Works cited:

1. Glazer Nathan, Field Cynthia R., Cooper James Fenimore, "The National Mall: Rethinking Washington's Monumental Core," JHU Press, 2008.

2. Halbwachs Maurice, Coser, Lewis a. "On Collective Memory," University of Chicago Press, 1992.

3. Lane, Sarah. (2005). "Abraham Lincoln Memorial -- History," Retrieved April 16, 2009, from Classbrain Web site: http://www.classbrain.com/artmonument/publish/lincoln_memorial_history.shtml

4. Schwartz, Barry. "Iconography and collective memory: Lincoln's image in the American mind." Sociological Quarterly, 1991, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p301, 20p, 1 chart.

5. Thomas Christopher a., "The Lincoln Memorial & American life," Princeton University Press, 2002.

6. "The Life of Martin Luther King Jr.," Retrieved April 17, 2009, from Seattle Times Web site: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/special/mlk/king/biography.html

Lane, Sarah. (2005). "Abraham Lincoln Memorial -- History," Retrieved April 16, 2009, from Classbrain Web site: http://www.classbrain.com/artmonument/publish/lincoln_memorial_history.shtml idem

Christopher a. Thomas, "The Lincoln Memorial & American life," Princeton University Press, 2002.

Christopher a. Thomas, "The Lincoln Memorial & American life," Princeton University Press, 2002.

Nathan Glazer, Cynthia R. Field, James Fenimore Cooper, "The National Mall: Rethinking Washington's Monumental Core," JHU Press, 2008.

idem

"The Life of Martin Luther King Jr.," Retrieved April 17, 2009, from Seattle Times Web site: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/special/mlk/king/biography.html

Nathan Glazer, Cynthia R. Field, James Fenimore Cooper, "The National Mall: Rethinking Washington's Monumental Core," JHU Press, 2008.

Nathan Glazer, Cynthia R. Field, James Fenimore Cooper, "The National Mall: Rethinking Washington's Monumental Core," JHU Press, 2008.

idem idem

Maurice Halbwachs, Lewis a. Coser, "On Collective…

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