On New Year’s Day the Emancipation Proclamation Association celebrated the 157th year of the historical Lincoln- Douglas debate at Edward Waters College. The Lincoln–Douglas debates also known as The Great Debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party candidate for the United States Senate from Illinois, and incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate. They previewed the issues that Lincoln later faced after his victory in the 1860 presidential election. Illinois was a free state, and the main issue discussed in all seven debates was slavery in the United States.
Keynote speaker was Judge Brian J. Davis, United States District Courts for the Middle District of Florida. Judge Davis presentation was centered on statements made by the late writer and author James Baldwin. Judge Davis explained in detail some of the issues Baldwin objected to and expounded on the importance of people voting individually and collectively. “Voting is not a panacea, but exercise that right as a citizen as it is written in the United States Constitution,” said Judge Davis. Attendee Brother Andre X Neal also remarked, “Mr. Baldwin was a man with deep insight and spoke truth to power about its phony, hypocritical practices of writing things and making promises that this United States Government never fulfilled especially to black people.” In addition, an award was presented to community activist Robert (Bob) Flowers. Mr. Flowers was awarded the Quilt of Valor given to a living service member or veteran touched by war. The local Emancipation Proclamation Association was founded by Clara White Mission founder daughter Eartha M.M. White. Shown is Bill McCany presenting Flowers with his Quilt of Valor as Carl Sharpenson looks on.