Westport Center for the Arts will present “Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Measure of Great Men” at 10:30 a.m. Saturday June 30 at The Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City, 1722 E. 17th Terrace.
Kansas City actors Walter Coppage and Robert Gibby Brand assume the roles of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln in a performance that draws upon the words of both men to re-create the struggle of both men as the two wrestle with how best to abolish slavery and reunite the nation.
“The Measure of Great Men” also traces the remarkably parallel paths of Lincoln and Douglass from humble beginnings – as the son of impoverished Midwestern settlers and as a slave – to positions of fame and influence.
Despite his reputation as the “Great Emancipator,” Lincoln initially opposed outright abolition of slavery, instead favoring a long-term solution in order to appease Southern voters. His conciliatory approach drew Douglass’s scorn, and led the abolition movement’s finest speaker to declare, “I cannot support Lincoln.”
As the swift end to the Civil War never materialized and criticism grew, Lincoln saw the immediate abolition of slavery as a tool to spur the defeat of the Confederacy. The Emancipation Proclamation made slavery the central focus of the war, and drew Douglass’ grudging respect. It wasn’t until the two men met in 1863 and 1864 to discuss recruitment of African-American troops that they became allies and friends.
“The Measure of Great Men” debuted in June 2011 at the Alexander Majors House, and has since been performed at community colleges and historic sites throughout the metropolitan Kansas City area.
Admission for the performance is free.
The Black Archives of Mid-America is a 501 c (3) organization. The mission of the Black Archives of Mid-America is to collect, preserve and make available to the public materials documenting the social, economic, political and cultural histories of persons of African descent in the central United States, with particular emphasis in the Kansas City, Missouri region. Black Archives of Mid-America is an educational resource and provides access to its collections for research, exhibition and publication to honor our community heritage and to catalyze public awareness.
Westport Center for the Arts was founded in 2006 to support community artists and the arts. In addition to the visual art exhibits, WCA presents Live Lit, monthly Brown Bag Concerts and a foreign film series.