Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln Memorial’

Last night, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced that they would hold sort-of-but-not-really-competing rallies at the Lincoln Memorial on October 30th.

Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” will be the voice of reason countering Colbert’s alarmist “March to Keep Fear Alive.” It’s a real-life satire of Glenn Beck’s Tea Party demonstration called “Restoring Honor” held on the National mall this past August. And it brings Comedy Central’s continued lampooning of absurd punditry and broken politics to a whole new level.

The Lincoln Memorial is America’s soap box. Most famously, in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech catapulted the efforts of the Civil Rights movement, and it helped make the memorial one of the country’s most powerful architectural symbols.  It’s without a doubt a solemn space for Americans, but not one the comedy world hasn’t touched before.  After all, Legally Blonde’s cartoonish “Elle Woods” and the actual cartoon Lisa Simpson have both found inspiration there.  Who knows if history will be made there on October 30th, but we can probably count on Colbert and Stewart being pretty funny.

A few years ago, as part of our series American Icons, Studio 360 devoted a whole hour to the Memorial, in which Kurt Andersen looked at what makes it the place to give a speech.

This fall, our Peabody Award-winning series returns.  Studio 360 will bring you stories on I Love Lucy, Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner,” the Harley-Davidson, and that other piece of architectural Americana, Monticello (an episode that, coincidentally, features Stephen Colbert).  American Icons picks up next week with the premiere of our one-hour episode on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Don’t miss it!

-Stephen Reader

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When we made a documentary about The Lincoln Memorial for our American Icons series, one person captured two seminal moments in the Memorial’s history for us: Dorothy Height.  She was at the Memorial in 1939 when Marian Anderson sang triumphantly after being banned from performing at Constitution Hall.  And she was at the podium when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

Height was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, and is considered to be one of the most influential women of the civil rights movement. She died yesterday at age 98.

Height spoke to Studio 360 in 2005.  It was awe-inspiring to meet someone who considered Eleanor Roosevelt to be her friend. When Height talked about seeing Marian Anderson sing and Martin Luther King, Jr. speak, you felt like you were right there with her. She also wore a fantastic hat — apparently hats were her signature fashion statement. In this excerpt from the Lincoln Memorial episode, Height recounts, in crystal-clear detail, her memory of Anderson’s concert at the Memorial.

The day we talked to her, Height expressed concern to us that the civil rights generation might be a victim of its own success. She feared that the next generation had taken these groundbreaking achievements for granted. In remembering Dorothy Height’s life, we hope to help keep that legacy alive.

– Leital Molad and Eric Molinsky

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Last week’s show about the Lincoln Memorial reminded me of the opportunity I had a few years ago to see Lincoln’s handwritten draft of the Emancipation Proclamation at the New-York Historical Society.

Emancipation Proclamation p. 1

The document is so fragile that it can be displayed only 10 days out of every year. It seems Lincoln wrote the landmark document in pencil on whatever paper he happened to have around his office. The cross-outs and changes are by Secretary of State William H. Seward.

Emancipation Proclamation p. 2

Here is a work with an undeniably huge impact. Though it didn’t actually free any slaves (that couldn’t happen until the Civil War ended), it was a critical precursor. It reminds me of the power of words – and that even penciled noodlings can change the course of history.

– Cary Barbor

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Move over American Idol. Presenting: Studio 360’s American Icons.

Sure, Abraham Lincoln isn’t most people’s idea of a triple threat (though his voice was said to be a reedy tenor). But his memorial in Washington, DC, has staying power. History was made there, and continues to be made there. It was the backdrop for opera singer Marian Anderson’s barrier-defying concert in 1939 and the setting for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Last week we explored how the monument became America’s soapbox and guidepost – with the help of Sarah Vowell, David Strathairn, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The Lincoln Memorial is just one episode from Studio 360’s American Icons series. American Icons shows take a work of art – something that’s changed the cultural conversation – and unpack it, often with surprising results. Among these special episodes, Lincoln shares top billing with Superman, Barbie, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, and “The Wizard of Oz.”

One of the defining aspects of an American Icon is that it can both reflect and absorb our interpretations. We all have our own memories and experiences of these works of art. Now we’re at work on our next series, and we’d love to know what you think of the new Icons we’ve chosen  In the fall of 2010 we’ll broadcast episodes exploring The Autobiography of Malcolm X, “I Love Lucy,” Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Do you have particular memories about these works?

Post them below…we’re eager to hear…

– Michael Guerriero

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In this week’s show, Kurt says that we can find the Lincoln Memorial on the back of any old penny. Well, that old penny is getting a new backside. Last week, the United States Mint released a new one-cent coin, in honor of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. While it still features his head on one side, the memorial will no longer be engraved on the tail.

(courtesy of usmint.gov)

In its place is a union shield — with 13 vertical stripes, representing the states, joined by a bar inscribed with E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one.” That shield has a special association with Lincoln. An artist commissioned to create work for the U.S. Capitol building during Lincoln’s presidency used the shield in frescoes that still hang on its walls. And the union shield is prominent in some Civil War memorabilia.

Feeling nostalgic for the Lincoln Memorial? Listen to our show about the American icon:

– Jess Jiang

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