Monday, February 16, 2009

Lincoln's Legacy Lives On: Sanibel Small Example

Having just spent the week-end in Washington DC where every nook and cranny of the city is dedicated to the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln, I find an interesting number of confluences in life.

One can not help but think of the comparisons between the 16th President, Abe Lincoln, and the 44th President, Barack Obama. Aside from a tall, slender frame, both Presidents show example after example of eloquence in writing and verbal expression.

The current comparables and words of Lincoln, hailed (with some argument) as The Great Emancipator are best captured in this quotation : "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."

And so in this 200th year of national attention upon the meaning of slavery and its impact on American history, it is particularly interesting to observe one aspect of the black diaspora as indicated in the Lincoln celebration and as experienced on Sanibel.

Yvonne Hill, a native of Princeton, New Jersey, who is African-American, moved to Sanibel in 2001 and took notice of the diverse history of the Island.

Her curiosity and research revealed that free black farmers, descendants of slaves, were among the pioneers who settled Sanibel.They cleared land, planted trees, built houses, did hauling, domestic work, and worked at resorts, according to Hill and collaborator on the book, Marguerite Jordan.

Hill and Jordan wanted people to be aware of the significant contribution that early black families made to Sanibel hoping that through their writings and photo collection that the legacy would not be lost.

An ongoing exhibit of the photographs collected for the book is currently on display at the Islander Center at 2401 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel.

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