The Edmond Sun

November 16, 2013

Lincoln Legacy Project announces award winners

Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — The Lincoln Legacy Project on Tuesday, which is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, will announce the recipients of the Abraham Lincoln Leadership Award and the Henry Bellmon Courage Award to be presented Feb. 11 at the Lincoln Legacy Dinner and Awards Program. The Nov. 19 event will also include a history lesson on the Gettysburg Address and a special video.

The Lincoln Legacy Project was formed to honor the memory of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address in a fitting way. It is a way to connect current beliefs in equality and liberty to that moment in 1863 at a small Pennsylvania town when Lincoln re-launched a nation. State Rep. Anastasia A. Pittman, of Oklahoma City, serves as the chairwoman of the Lincoln Legacy Project. State Rep. Earl Sears, of Bartlesville, serves as co-chair. The project’s goal is to enhance historical sites across Oklahoma that were impacted by Lincoln’s legacy.

The Freedom Center on Martin Luther King Avenue in northeastern Oklahoma City will be the first beneficiary of the project. The site was the epicenter of the Civil Rights movement in the city and the Oklahoma NAACP Youth Council.

Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry will be the keynote speaker at the Lincoln Legacy Dinner and Awards Program. Henry returned to OCU after serving as chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He previously served as dean of the OCU School of Law and as a tenured professor of law. Henry also served as the Oklahoma Attorney General and as a state representative.

Oklahoma History Center Director Dr. Bob Blackburn will be the Master of Ceremonies for the dinner and celebration.

T.W. Shannon, the first African American Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, will be rewarded the Abraham Lincoln Leadership Award during the awards dinner. Terri White, commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, will receive the Henry Bellmon Courage Award for her tireless work and advocacy for mental health challenges.

Members of the Lincoln Legacy Project come from all walks of life and political backgrounds. Supporters lauded the organization and upcoming events.

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello said “No other president in American history has meant so much to so many. The Gettysburg Address of which he thought was not well received turned out to be the greatest speech to be given by any U.S. president.”

Larry Stein, deputy county assessor for Oklahoma County, said “Abraham Lincoln is one of my all-time heroes for how he changed America. Promoting the legacy of President Lincoln and remembering one of the most famous, eloquent and short speeches ever given in the history of the world is a privilege.