We are pleased you chose to visit us on the web! We love to share our plans to promote Kalamazoo's Lincoln legacy. We invite you to peruse our site and send us your thoughts and suggestions.
Our statement of purpose is this:
To create sustained value from Kalamazoo’s unique Abraham Lincoln legacy with educational programs including leadership development training for area youth, biennial symposiums with art and essay contests, and an instructive commemorative statue of Abraham Lincoln in Bronson Park.
Our aim is to make a positive impact on the lives of area youth!
In January, 2022, a Call to Artists was sent out. In response, we received over a dozen submissions from highly qualified sculptors. After an initial review, five artists were selected for further consideration. These five underwent further screening, which included careful examination of each artist’s references and works of public art. Interviews with each of the artists followed and three finalists were selected.
We are pleased to announce that William Wolfe, Antonio Tobias Mendez, and Steven Whyte have been chosen as the three finalists. The next phase of the selection process calls for the three finalists to create a maquette of their proposed design for presentation to our full board of directors this June. The board's selection of the winning design will then be presented to the City of Kalamazoo for final approval. Congratulations to all of our finalists!
Installation is planned for August 2023
We are committed to developing educational resources that build on Kalamazoo's Lincoln legacy. As board member Fred Colgren says, "We want to turn kids on to history!" And so we have created a draft curriculum framework for teaching area students about Lincoln's Kalamazoo visit. Using the download button below, you will see the material is tied to Michigan's core curriculum requirements.
We believe Lincoln’s life story also provides a tangible model for teaching social-emotional competencies in classroom instruction. We address this topic on page two of the appended document.
This is a work in progress. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please share this proposal with your friends and associates.
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in . . . to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.—Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, 1865
We embrace Abraham Lincoln's vision of a more just America, and we stand in solidarity with those who have suffered injustice and racial violence. In doing so, we find no room for prejudice, hate and discrimination. Sadly, today’s injustice and unrest echoes those inequalities that have yet to be fully resolved since the days of Lincoln. Yet we believe the hard learned lessons of the past can help instruct and guide us on the path toward a more just society that honors the American creed that all are created equal. To that end, we commit our time, energy and resources to help share Lincoln's story of courage, hope and purpose so that healing, hope and joy might permeate the land.
The Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute joins with the Kalamazoo community in honoring the late Moses Walker, community leader and dedicated public servant. We extend our condolences to the Walker family and wish to acknowledge our appreciation for Mr. Walker's participation in our project as an honorary co-chair of our 2019-2020 capital campaign. We share Moses Walker's passion for encouraging young people and we are deeply grateful for his commitment to improving the quality of life in Kalamazoo.
We want to build on a gift of history unique to Kalamazoo—something no other community in Michigan can claim—a visit by one of the most admired statesman of all time, Abraham Lincoln. The Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute (KLI) is a community-based effort to celebrate Lincoln's 1856 visit to Kalamazoo in a sustained and creative way. Our plan is to use this singular event of the past to enrich the life of Kalamazoo today and into the future.
With the advent of the Kalamazoo Promise, Kalamazoo has achieved national prominence in the pursuit of higher learning. Educating young minds is central to the scope and purpose of the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute, reinforcing the exceptionalism that defines Kalamazoo.
On August 27, 1856, Abraham Lincoln visited Kalamazoo. Little known outside his home state of Illinois, he was invited to speak at a political rally in what is now Bronson Park. It would be his only public appearance in Michigan. He came to give voice to the moral issue of his day—slavery. Nine years later, he would give his life at the hand of an assassin.
Read Lincoln's Kalamazoo Speech in its entirety courtesy of the Kalamazoo Public Library with curatorial comments by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.
One of our board members, Dr. Tom George, has done some scholarly research on the particulars surrounding Lincoln's visit. Read Dr. George's article published in the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association.
In the fall of 2012, a local steering committee was formed to explore ways to use Lincoln's 1856 visit as a springboard for educational purposes. The committee assessed Lincoln's Kalamazoo visit as an untapped resource with the potential to add significant cultural and educational value to Kalamazoo. As a result, a threefold program was introduced as the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Project, now the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute, a Michigan 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. One of our goals is to place a privately-funded bronze statue of Lincoln in Bronson Park.
In December 2013, the Kalamazoo City Commission approved the steering committee's request to place a privately-funded Lincoln statue in Bronson Park. Specific site location was approved by the commission in July 2016 (see download below). The statue will serve as an anchor for the committee's three-part Lincoln-legacy plan, and a visible reminder of Lincoln's visit to Kalamazoo.
"The City of Kalamazoo supports the placement of a privately-funded bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln in Bronson Park, and has authorized the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln [Institute] to coordinate fundraising efforts, and oversee the artistic direction for the statue design and selection of a sculptor. Final design approval is subject to the advice and consent of the City of Kalamazoo . . . The statue will be placed on ground located in the north central part of the park." —November 18, 2016 (revised January 22, 2018)
Our capital campaign to raise $150,000* to place a privately-funded bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln in Bronson Park and help advance our 3-part Lincoln-legacy plan for Kalamazoo is supported by the following honorary co-chairs: Lynn Chen-Zhang, Blaine Lam, Ken Miller, Dr. Michael Rice, Ron and Ruth Wiser, and the late Moses Walker.
Please join these community leaders in helping bring Lincoln back to Kalamazoo! Your support of this positive community enrichment is greatly appreciated. You may donate online!
*Target goal does not include required maintenance endowment fund. There may be other associated costs such as site preparation, shipping, and installation for which we will seek financial sponsors.
The campaign flyer shown above is desktop printable and can be downloaded by clicking on the box below. You are free to use it for your group's promotional support of our fundraising goals.
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Video narrations of "A Gift of History" and "Come to the Rescue" courtesy of Tim Brown of Easy On Hold.
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