Full Text Political Transcripts September 24, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Source: WH, 9-24-16

National Mall

Washington, D.C.

11:55 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  James Baldwin once wrote, “For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard.”  For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard.

Today, as so many generations have before, we gather on our National Mall to tell an essential part of our American story — one that has at times been overlooked — we come not just for today, but for all time.

 

President and Mrs. Bush; President Clinton; Vice President and Dr. Biden; Chief Justice Roberts; Secretary Skorton; Reverend Butts; distinguished guests:  Thank you.  Thank you for your leadership in making sure this tale is told.  We’re here in part because of you and because of all those Americans — the Civil War vets, the Civil Rights foot soldiers, the champions of this effort on Capitol Hill — who, for more than a century, kept the dream of this museum alive.

That includes our leaders in Congress — Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi.  It includes one of my heroes, John Lewis, who, as he has so often, took the torch from those who came before him and brought us past the finish line.  It includes the philanthropists and benefactors and advisory members who have so generously given not only their money but their time.  It includes the Americans who offered up all the family keepsakes tucked away in Grandma’s attic.  And of course, it includes a man without whose vision and passion and persistence we would not be here today — Mr. Lonnie Bunch.  (Applause.)

What we can see of this building — the towering glass, the artistry of the metalwork — is surely a sight to behold.  But beyond the majesty of the building, what makes this occasion so special is the larger story it contains.  Below us, this building reaches down 70 feet, its roots spreading far wider and deeper than any tree on this Mall.  And on its lowest level, after you walk past remnants of a slave ship, after you reflect on the immortal declaration that “all men are created equal,” you can see a block of stone.  On top of this stone sits a historical marker, weathered by the ages.  That marker reads:  “General Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay spoke from this slave block…during the year 1830.”

I want you to think about this.  Consider what this artifact tells us about history, about how it’s told, and about what can be cast aside.  On a stone where day after day, for years, men and women were torn from their spouse or their child, shackled and bound, and bought and sold, and bid like cattle; on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet — for a long time, the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as “history” with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.

And that block I think explains why this museum is so necessary.  Because that same object, reframed, put in context, tells us so much more.  As Americans, we rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country; who led armies into battle and waged seminal debates in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power.  But too often, we ignored or forgot the stories of millions upon millions of others, who built this nation just as surely, whose humble eloquence, whose calloused hands, whose steady drive helped to create cities, erect industries, build the arsenals of democracy.

And so this national museum helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are.  It helps us better understand the lives, yes, of the President, but also the slave; the industrialist, but also the porter; the keeper of the status quo, but also of the activist seeking to overthrow that status quo; the teacher or the cook, alongside the statesman.  And by knowing this other story, we better understand ourselves and each other. It binds us together.  It reaffirms that all of us are America — that African-American history is not somehow separate from our larger American story, it’s not the underside of the American story, it is central to the American story.  That our glory derives not just from our most obvious triumphs, but how we’ve wrested triumph from tragedy, and how we’ve been able to remake ourselves, again and again and again, in accordance with our highest ideals.

I, too, am America.

The great historian John Hope Franklin, who helped to get this museum started, once said, “Good history is a good foundation for a better present and future.”  He understood the best history doesn’t just sit behind a glass case; it helps us to understand what’s outside the case.  The best history helps us recognize the mistakes that we’ve made and the dark corners of the human spirit that we need to guard against.  And, yes, a clear-eyed view of history can make us uncomfortable, and shake us out of familiar narratives.  But it is precisely because of that discomfort that we learn and grow and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect.

That’s the American story that this museum tells — one of suffering and delight; one of fear but also of hope; of wandering in the wilderness and then seeing out on the horizon a glimmer of the Promised Land.

It is in this embrace of truth, as best as we can know it, in the celebration of the entire American experience, where real patriotism lies.  As President Bush just said, a great nation doesn’t shy from the truth.  It strengthens us.  It emboldens us. It should fortify us.  It is an act of patriotism to understand where we’ve been.  And this museum tells the story of so many patriots.

Yes, African Americans have felt the cold weight of shackles and the stinging lash of the field whip.  But we’ve also dared to run north, and sing songs from Harriet Tubman’s hymnal.  We’ve buttoned up our Union Blues to join the fight for our freedom. We’ve railed against injustice for decade upon decade — a lifetime of struggle, and progress, and enlightenment that we see etched in Frederick Douglass’s mighty, leonine gaze.

 

Yes, this museum tells a story of people who felt the indignity, the small and large humiliations of a “whites only” sign, or wept at the side of Emmett Till’s coffin, or fell to their knees on shards of stained glass outside a church where four little girls died.  But it also tells the story of the black youth and white youth sitting alongside each other, straight-backed, so full of dignity on those lunch counter stools; the story of a six-year-old Ruby Bridges, pigtails, fresh-pressed dress, walking that gauntlet to get to school; Tuskegee airmen soaring the skies not just to beat a dictator, but to reaffirm the promise of our democracy — (applause) — but remind us that all of us are created equal.

This is the place to understand how protest and love of country don’t merely coexist but inform each other; how men can proudly win the gold for their country but still insist on raising a black-gloved fist; how we can wear “I Can’t Breathe”

T-shirt and still grieve for fallen police officers.  Here’s the America where the razor-sharp uniform of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff belongs alongside the cape of the Godfather of Soul.  (Laughter.)  We have shown the world that we can float like butterflies and sting like bees; that we can rocket into space like Mae Jemison, steal home like Jackie, rock like Jimi, stir the pot like Richard Pryor; or we can be sick and tired of being sick and tired, like Fannie Lou Hamer, and still Rock Steady like Aretha Franklin.  (Applause.)

We are large, Walt Whitman told us, containing multitudes.  We are large, containing multitudes.  Full of contradictions.  That’s America.  That’s what makes us grow.  That’s what makes us extraordinary.  And as is true for America, so is true for African American experience.  We’re not a burden on America, or a stain on America, or an object of pity or charity for America.  We’re America.  (Applause.)

And that’s what this museum explains — the fact that our stories have shaped every corner of our culture.  The struggles for freedom that took place made our Constitution a real and living document, tested and shaped and deepened and made more profound its meaning for all people.  The story told here doesn’t just belong to black Americans; it belongs to all Americans — for the African-American experience has been shaped just as much by Europeans and Asians and Native Americans and Latinos.  We have informed each other.  We are polyglot, a stew.

Scripture promised that if we lift up the oppressed, then our light will rise in the darkness, and our night will become like the noonday.  And the story contained in this museum makes those words prophecy.  And that’s what this day is about.  That’s what this museum is about.  I, too, am America.  It is a glorious story, the one that’s told here.  It is complicated and it is messy and it is full of contradictions, as all great stories are, as Shakespeare is, as Scripture is.  And it’s a story that perhaps needs to be told now more than ever.

A museum alone will not alleviate poverty in every inner city or every rural hamlet.  It won’t eliminate gun violence from all our neighborhoods, or immediately ensure that justice is always colorblind.  It won’t wipe away every instance of discrimination in a job interview or a sentencing hearing or folks trying to rent an apartment.  Those things are up to us, the decisions and choices we make.  It requires speaking out, and organizing, and voting, until our values are fully reflected in our laws and our policies and our communities.

But what this museum does show us is that in even the face of oppression, even in the face of unimaginable difficulty, America has moved forward.  And so this museum provides context for the debates of our times.  It illuminates them and gives us some sense of how they evolved, and perhaps keeps them in proportion.  Perhaps it can help a white visitor understand the pain and anger of demonstrators in places like Tulsa and Charlotte.  But it can also help black visitors appreciate the fact that not only is this younger generation carrying on traditions of the past but, within the white communities across this nation we see the sincerity of law enforcement officers and officials who, in fits and starts, are struggling to understand, and are trying to do the right thing.

It reminds us that routine discrimination and Jim Crow aren’t ancient history, it’s just a blink in the eye of history. It was just yesterday.  And so we should not be surprised that not all the healing is done.  We shouldn’t despair that it’s not all solved.  And knowing the larger story should instead remind us of just how remarkable the changes that have taken place truly are — just in my lifetime — and thereby inspire us to further progress.

And so hopefully this museum can help us talk to each other. And more importantly, listen to each other.  And most importantly, see each other.  Black and white and Latino and Native American and Asian American — see how our stories are bound together.  And bound together with women in America, and workers in America, and entrepreneurs in America, and LGBT Americans.  And for young people who didn’t live through the struggles represented here, I hope you draw strength from the changes that have taken place.  Come here and see the power of your own agency.  See how young John Lewis was.  These were children who transformed a nation in a blink of an eye.  Young people, come here and see your ability to make your mark.

The very fact of this day does not prove that America is perfect, but it does validate the ideas of our founding, that this country born of change, this country born of revolution, this country of we, the people, this country can get better.

And that’s why we celebrate, mindful that our work is not yet done; mindful that we are but on a waystation on this common journey towards freedom.  And how glorious it is that we enshrine it here, on some of our nation’s most hallowed ground — the same place where lives were once traded but also where hundreds of thousands of Americans, of all colors and creeds, once marched.  How joyful it is that this story take its rightful place — alongside Jefferson who declared our independence, and Washington who made it real, and alongside Lincoln who saved our union, and the GIs who defended it; alongside a new monument to a King, gazing outward, summoning us toward that mountaintop.  How righteous it is that with  tell this story here.

For almost eight years, I have been blessed with the extraordinary honor of serving you in this office.  (Applause.)  Time and again, I’ve flown low over this mall on Marine One, often with Michelle and our daughters.  And President Clinton, President Bush, they’ll tell you it is incredible sight.  We pass right across the Washington Monument — it feels like you can reach out and touch it.  And at night, if you turn the other way, you don’t just see the Lincoln Memorial, Old Abe is lit up and you can see him, his spirit glowing from that building.  And we don’t have many trips left.  But over the years, I’ve always been comforted as I’ve watched this museum rise from this earth into this remarkable tribute.  Because I know that years from now, like all of you, Michelle and I will be able to come here to this museum, and not just bring our kids but hopefully our grandkids. I imagine holding a little hand of somebody and tell them the stories that are enshrined here.

And in the years that follow, they’ll be able to do the same.  And then we’ll go to the Lincoln Memorial and we’ll take in the view atop the Washington Monument.  And together, we’ll learn about ourselves, as Americans — our sufferings, our delights, and our triumphs.  And we’ll walk away better for it, better because the better grasp of history.  We’ll walk away that much more in love with this country, the only place on Earth where this story could have unfolded.  (Applause.)

It is a monument, no less than the others on this Mall, to the deep and abiding love for this country, and the ideals upon which it is founded.  For we, too, are America.

So enough talk.  President Bush is timing me.  (Laughter.) He had the over/under at 25.  (Laughter.)  Let us now open this museum to the world.  Today, we have with us a family that reflects the arc of our progress:  the Bonner family — four generations in all, starting with gorgeous seven-year-old Christine and going up to gorgeous 99-year-old Ruth.  (Applause.)

Now, Ruth’s father, Elijah Odom, was born into servitude in Mississippi.  He was born a slave.  As a young boy, he ran, though, to his freedom.  He lived through Reconstruction and he lived through Jim Crow.  But he went on to farm, and graduate from medical school, and gave life to the beautiful family that we see today — with a spirit reflected in beautiful Christine, free and equal in the laws of her country and in the eyes of God.

So in a brief moment, their family will join us in ringing a bell from the First Baptist Church in Virginia — one of the oldest black churches in America, founded under a grove of trees in 1776.  And the sound of this bell will be echoed by others in houses of worship and town squares all across this country — an echo of the ringing bells that signaled Emancipation more than a century and a half ago; the sound, and the anthem, of American freedom.

God bless you all.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END             12:26 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts September 23, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Reception in Honor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Reception in Honor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Source: WH, 9-23-16

Grand Foyer

4:51 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, welcome, everybody. (Applause.) This is an exceptionally good-looking group. (Laughter.) And there are just so many friends here that it feels like one of our house parties. (Laughter.) But there’s no dancing this afternoon. We’re here just to acknowledge what an extraordinary achievement has been accomplished by Mr. Lonnie Bunch — (applause) — and everybody who helped make this day possible.

Now, I want to just talk about Lonnie for a second. When Lonnie first came here from Chicago to start work on this museum a decade ago, he could not even find somebody to give him a key to his office. (Laughter.) Nobody had heard of this museum. And now you cannot miss it — a breathtaking new building right in the heart of the National Mall. And that is what we call progress. It could not have been done without the persistence, the wisdom, the dedication, the savvy, the ability to make people feel guilty — (laughter) — the begging, the deal-making, and just the general street smarts of Lonnie and his entire team. So please give him a big round of applause for all the work that he has done. (Applause.)

But, of course, this is also about more than Lonnie. This is about people who, for more than a century, advocated and organized, and raised funds, and donated artifacts so that the story of the African American experience could take its rightful place in our national memory. It’s a story that is full of tragedy and setbacks, but also great joy and great victories. And it is a story that is not just part of the past, but it is alive and well today in every corner of America. And that’s certainly true today in this house — a house that was built by slaves.

Now, I can’t name everybody that is here, but I’m going to have to give you a little bit of a taste. This room is like a living museum of its own. Right now, Madame Tussauds would be very jealous. (Laughter.)

We’ve got icons of the entertainment industry like Quincy Jones — (applause) — and Dick Gregory and Phylicia Rashad. (Applause.) We’ve got the first black woman in space, Mae Jemison. (Applause.) And we have the woman who owns the universe, Oprah Winfrey. (Laughter and applause.) We’ve got those drum majors for justice, like John Lewis and Andrew Young and C.T. Vivian, and Jesse Jackson. (Applause.) And we’ve got the next generation of warriors for justice like Brittany Packnett and DeRay Mckesson. We’ve got personal heroes of mine like Harry Belafonte — (applause) — who still is the best-looking man in the room at 90-something years old. (Laughter.) I’m just telling the truth. (Laughter.)

So this is an extraordinary group. But the thing about this museum is that it’s more about — it’s more than just telling stories about the famous. It’s not just about the icons. There’s plenty of space for Harriet Tubman and Dr. King and Muhammed Ali. But what makes the museum so powerful and so visceral is that it’s the story of all of us — the folks whose names you never heard of, but whose contributions, day after day, decade after decade, combined to push us forward and the entire nation forward.

It’s the maids who decided, you know what, I’m tired of segregation and I’m going to walk for my freedom. It’s the porters who not only worked tirelessly to support their families, but ultimately helped bring about the organization that led to better working conditions for all Americans here in the United States. It’s about our moms and grandparents and uncles and aunts who just did the right thing and raised great families, despite assaults on their dignity on every single day.

You see it in the dignity of the artifacts that are in the museum — the dignity of an enslaved family, what it must have been like to try to live in that tiny cabin. Those slaves who dared to marry, even though it was illegal for them to do so. Folks who were forced to sit in the back of a train, but went about their business anyway, and tried to instill in their children as sense that this isn’t who we are, and there’s going to be more someday.

You see it in the men and the women who rushed to the warfronts to secure all of our freedom, understanding that when they came home they might not yet be free. The students who walked passed angry crowds the integrate our schools. The families huddling around the Bible to steel their faith for the challenges ahead. That quite, determined dignity and hope.

Everybody here has somebody in mind when we think of those kinds of folks — who couldn’t make it to this room, but whose stories are our stories, and whose stories are represented at this museum. It might be an ancestor who ran to freedom, or an aunt or uncle who pushed back against Jim Crow, or a friend who marched or sat in. Or it might be young people who were organizing against cynicism today.

But the point is that all of us cannot forget that the only reason that we’re standing here is because somebody, somewhere stood up for us. Stood up when it was risky. Stood up when it was not popular. And somehow, standing up together, managed to change the world.

You know, the timing of this is fascinating. (Applause.) Because in so many ways, it is the best of times, but in many ways these are also troubled times. History doesn’t always move in a straight line. And without vigilance, we can go backwards as well as forwards.

And so part of the reason that I am so happy the museum is opening this weekend is because it allows all of us as Americans to put our current circumstances in a historical context. My hope is that, as people are seeing what’s happened in Tulsa or Charlotte on television, and perhaps are less familiar with not only the history of the African American experience but also how recent some of these challenges have been, upon visiting the museum, may step back and say, I understand. I sympathize. I empathize. I can see why folks might feel angry and I want to be part of the solution as opposed to resisting change.

My hope is that black folks watching the same images on television, and then seeing the history represented at this museum, can say to themselves, the struggles we’re going through today are connected to the past, and yet, all that progress we’ve made tells me that I cannot and will not sink into despair, because if we join hands, and we do things right, if we maintain our dignity, and we continue to appeal to the better angels of this nation, progress will be made. (Applause.)

I was telling Michelle — many of you know I get 10 letters a day from constituents, and it’s a great way for me to keep a pulse on how folks other than the pundits on cable TV are thinking. (Laughter.) And I know it’s a representative group because sometimes people say, Mr. President, we just love you and we especially love Michelle. (Laughter.) And you’re doing such a great job and thank you. And then there are others who write and say, Mr. President, you’re an idiot. (Laughter.) And you’ve ruined this country. And so I know I’m getting a real sampling of American public opinion.

Last night, as I was reading through my letters, I’d say about half of them said, Mr. President, why are you always against police, and why aren’t you doing enough to deal with these rioters and the violence? And then the other half were some black folks saying, Mr. President, why aren’t you doing something about the police? And when are we actually going to get justice?

And I understand the nature of that argument because this is a dialogue we’ve been having for 400 years. And the fact of the matter is, is that one of the challenges we have in generating a constructive discussion about how to solve these problems is because what people see on television and what they hear on the radio is bereft of context and ignores history, and so people are just responding as if none of what’s represented in this museum ever happened. And that’s true for all of us, not just some of us.

And so when I imagine children — white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American — wandering through that museum, and sitting at that lunch counter, and imagining what it would be like to stand on that auction block, and then also looking at Shaq’s shoes — (laughter) — and Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac, my hope is, is that this complicated, difficult, sometimes harrowing, but I believe ultimately triumphant story will help us talk to each other, and, more important, listen to each other, and even more important, see each other, and recognize the common humanity that makes America what it is. (Applause.)

So that’s a lot of weight to put on one institution.

MRS. OBAMA: We can do it. (Laughter

THE PRESIDENT: But Michelle and I, having taken Michelle’s mom and our daughters to see it, we feel confident that it will not just meet expectations, but far exceed them. And it would not have happened without all of you. So you should be very, very proud.

Congratulations. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.)

END
5:07 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 15, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 9/11 Museum Dedication

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks at 9/11 Museum Dedication: “A Sacred Place of Healing and of Hope”

 Source: WH, 5-15-14
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014.President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This morning, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero opened its doors to the families of those who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks, as well as the first responders and recovery workers that helped save the lives of others that day…READ MORE

Remarks by the President at 9/11 Museum Dedication

Source: WH, 5-15-14

Watch the Video

New York, New York

10:12 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo, honored guests, families of the fallen.

In those awful moments after the South Tower was hit, some of the injured huddled in the wreckage of the 78th floor.  The fires were spreading.  The air was filled with smoke.  It was dark, and they could barely see.  It seemed as if there was no way out.

And then there came a voice — clear, calm, saying he had found the stairs.  A young man in his 20s, strong, emerged from the smoke, and over his nose and his mouth he wore a red handkerchief.

He called for fire extinguishers to fight back the flames.  He tended to the wounded.  He led those survivors down the stairs to safety, and carried a woman on his shoulders down 17 flights. Then he went back.  Back up all those flights.  Then back down again, bringing more wounded to safety.  Until that moment when the tower fell.

They didn’t know his name.  They didn’t know where he came from.  But they knew their lives had been saved by the man in the red bandana.

Again, Mayor Bloomberg; distinguished guests; Mayor de Blasio; Governors Christie and Cuomo; to the families and survivors of that day; to all those who responded with such courage — on behalf of Michelle and myself and the American people, it is an honor for us to join in your memories.  To remember and to reflect.  But above all, to reaffirm the true spirit of 9/11 — love, compassion, sacrifice — and to enshrine it forever in the heart of our nation.

Michelle and I just had the opportunity to join with others on a visit with some of the survivors and families — men and women who inspire us all.  And we had a chance to visit some of the exhibits.  And I think all who come here will find it to be a profound and moving experience.

I want to express our deep gratitude to everybody who was involved in this great undertaking — for bringing us to this day, for giving us this sacred place of healing and of hope.

Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together.  We stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters.  We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world.  We can touch their names and hear their voices and glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives.  A wedding ring.  A dusty helmet.  A shining badge.

Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.  Of coworkers who led others to safety.  Passengers who stormed a cockpit.  Our men and women in uniform who rushed into an inferno.  Our first responders who charged up those stairs.  A generation of servicemembers — our 9/11 Generation — who have served with honor in more than a decade of war.  A nation that stands tall and united and unafraid — because no act of terror can match the strength or the character of our country.  Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us; nothing can change who we are as Americans.

On that September morning, Alison Crowther lost her son Welles.  Months later, she was reading the newspaper — an article about those final minutes in the towers.  Survivors recounted how a young man wearing a red handkerchief had led them to safety.  And in that moment, Alison knew.  Ever since he was a boy, her son had always carried a red handkerchief.  Her son Welles was the man in the red bandana.

Welles was just 24 years old, with a broad smile and a bright future.  He worked in the South Tower, on the 104th floor. He had a big laugh, a joy of life, and dreams of seeing the world.  He worked in finance, but he had also been a volunteer firefighter.  And after the planes hit, he put on that bandana and spent his final moments saving others.

Three years ago this month, after our SEALs made sure that justice was done, I came to Ground Zero.  And among the families here that day was Alison Crowther.  And she told me about Welles and his fearless spirit, and she showed me a handkerchief like the one he wore that morning.

And today, as we saw on our tour, one of his red handkerchiefs is on display in this museum.  And from this day forward, all those who come here will have a chance to know the sacrifice of a young man who — like so many — gave his life so others might live.

Those we lost live on in us.  In the families who love them still.  In the friends who remember them always.  And in a nation that will honor them, now and forever.

And today it is my honor to introduce two women forever bound by that day, united in their determination to keep alive the true spirit of 9/11 — Welles Crowther’s mother Alison, and one of those he saved, Ling Young.  (Applause.)

END
10:21 A.M. EDT

History Buzz January 17, 2013: JFK White House staffers reunite

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

JFK White House staffers reunite

Source: Boston.com, 1-17-13

Some arrived in the afternoon drizzle with the aid of canes. Others steadied themselves on the arm of a spouse. But they were as determined as half a century ago when they were the foot soldiers of President John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier.

A handful of surviving members of the 35th president’s White House staff came together Wednesday to relive those heady times that have long since passed for American myth. They were invited for a private tour of the exhibit, “To The Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” on display at the National Archives….READ MORE

History Buzz February 10, 2012: Natalie Dykstra: Hope College professor writes biography on Clover Adams

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Hope College professor writes biography on Clover Adams

Source: Holland Sentinel, 2-10-12

Hope College professor Natalie Dykstra has written a biography of Clover Adams.

Dykstra’s book “Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life” covers Adams’ l9th century life, marriage to historian Henry Adams, and suicide at age 42. The book focuses on understanding Adams through her letters and photography Dykstra said in a press release, “Clover was known for her marriage and for committing suicide.  The last act of her life had defined her, and she’d become no more than an emblem of loss and suffering. This seemed so unfair. I tried to stay close to her words and her photographs and to understand these sources as fully as possible to see her life from her point of view.”

In addition to her book, Dykstra is also putting together a gallery show of Clover’s photographs for the Massachusetts Historical Society. The exhibit will through June 2.

Dykstra is an associate English professor. She has taught at the college since 2000.

Anne-Marie Eze: Unique Venetian manuscripts on display at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Unique Venetian manuscripts on display at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Source: Daily News Transcript, 6-2-11

Zoom

Photos

Leonardo Bellini-Diedo family arms, 1464.jpg

Contributed photo/Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

An exquisitely detailed inside page of a commissione by Leonardo Bellini from 1464.


Like many grand women, Isabella Stewart Gardner kept private accounts of influential men, the keys to power and portraits of otherworldly beauties.

Now English art scholar and historian Anne-Marie Eze has revealed a rarely seen side of Gardner through a gorgeous exhibit of Venetian manuscripts from her private library never before shown to the public.

Small but full of riches, “Illuminating the Serenissima” showcases seven “commissioni,” elaborately decorated, handmade books that served as contracts for Venetian noblemen elected to serve as ambassadors or administrators for the then great maritime power.

Subtitled “Books of the Republic of Venice,” the show runs through June 19 in the museum’s Long Gallery where Gardner kept some of her 1,500 books in covered cases to protect them from light.

“Not everyone gets to see Mrs. Gardner’s books,” said Eze, postdoctoral curatorial fellow and one of the area’s top experts on illustrated manuscripts. “This is a great opportunity to see works that have been out of public view for many decades.”

From 697 to 1797, “La Serenissima” — the Most Serene Republic of Venice — ruled an empire that reached from mainland Italy to the eastern Mediterranean.

While most visitors come to the Renaissance style palazzo for its extensive collection of European, Islamic and Asian art, this subtly informative show opens a gorgeous window onto a distinctly Venetian art form and Gardner’s sophistication as a bibliophile.

Gardner director Anne Hawley said the exhibition “not only boasts beautiful objects that are usually inaccessible to visitors but further illustrates Isabella Gardner’s passion for Venetian art and history.”

Eze said commissioni were issued in pairs to nobles setting off on 16-month terms of duty in Venice’s provinces. One copy was kept by the government and the other given to the office-holder, who typically treasured it as an emblem of prestige.

Though essentially contracts, she said office-holders regarded them as “status symbols” and had them illuminated and bound according to the evolving conventions of their times.

Eze graduated with a bachelor’s degree with honors in classics and a master’s degree in library studies with a specialization in manuscript studies and historical bibliography from University College London. The focus of her doctoral dissertation was the infamous Venetian priest-turned-art dealer Abbe Luigi Celotti and 19th century illuminated miniatures.

While styles evolved, commissioni often featured artistic conventions such as an elaborately illustrated page with decorative figures and Latin text stating a solemn oath and the statues of the appointee’s service.

Over the course of the three centuries covered in the show, the illustrated pages grew more sophisticated featuring decorative borders, allegorical images and the appointee’s coat of arms.

Eze said the commissioni provide rich sources of information about Venetian history, art and culture.

“Commissioni are important to the study of Venetian art and history because they are dated sources of style about illumination, bookbinding and iconography as well as heraldry, portraiture and biographical information about their owners,” she said. “Though thousands were produced under the Republic, commissioni are intrinsically rare because only two copies of each were ever made.”

Small flashlights are hung near the commissioni and binders to help visitors view their exquisite details without damaging the fragile manuscripts.

To the careful viewer, the images provide a remarkable catalog of Venetian art and history.

Created by the most skilled illuminator of the 16th century, the commissioni of Francesco Donato features a winged lion, the symbol of St. Mark, patron saint of Venice and an image of the Virgin and Child.

Researching the manuscript from 1546, Eze discovered an apparent forgery worthy of a Dan Brown mystery. The manuscript had been signed with a curious T-like mark — apparently added many years later by the owner or a dealer — to mislead potential buyers into thinking it was the work of Tiziano Vecellio, popularly known as Titian.

A 1615 image by an unknown illustrator features a miniature of the appointee, Francesco Contarini and his patron saint worshiping a charming picture of the Virgin and Child.

The exhibit includes three exquisitely crafted binders, or covers, that progressed from goatskin to calfskin to hammered silver, bearing symbolic figures of great craft and artistry.

As the museum proceeds on schedule to complete its new wing, “Illuminating the Serenissima” should remind visitors that Gardner, acting upon advice from thoughtful advisers, appreciated and collected this distinctly Venetian kind of bound and illuminated manuscripts.

The show features seven of the 20 manuscripts Gardner purchased which Eze has been studying along with the founder’s extensive book collection.

She said Gardner purchased her first rare book in 1886, five years before her father’s death which provided some of the inheritance to support further acquisitions.

Eze said Gardner acquired four books in the exhibit and several others from Charles Eliot Norton, Harvard University’s first professor of art history, a friend and fellow member of Boston’s Dante Society. Letters between Norton and Gardner show he sold them to her near the end of his life because he felt confident she would preserve them rather than sell them piece-by-piece like other collectors.

THE ESSENTIALS:

WHAT: “Illuminating the Serenissima: Books of the Republic of Venice”

WHEN: Through June 19

WHERE: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

ADMISSION: Adults, $12; seniors, $10; students, $5; $2 off with same day admission from Museum of Fine Arts

INFO: 617-278-5156; www.gardnermuseum.org

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