Dr. Edna Greene Medford speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia on March 12, 2013.
Summary of Presentation:
The Emancipation Proclamation is the most important document of arguably the greatest president in U.S. history. Edna Greene Medford remembers, analyzes, and interprets the Emancipation Proclamation in respect to the influence of and impact upon African Americans; the legal, political, and military exigencies; and the role pictorial images played in establishing the document in public memory. Medford places African Americans, the people most affected by Lincoln’s edict, at the center of the drama rather than at the periphery, as previous studies have done. She argues that blacks interpreted the Proclamation much more broadly than Lincoln intended it, and during the postwar years and into the twentieth century they became disillusioned by the broken promise of equality and the realities of discrimination, violence, and economic dependence.
Edna Greene Medford is Professor, current Chair, and former director of the Department of History’s graduate and undergraduate programs at Howard University. Specializing in nineteenth century African-American history, she teaches courses in the Jacksonian Era, Civil War and Reconstruction, and African-American History to 1877. Dr. Medford was educated at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia, the University of Illinois (Urbana), and the University of Maryland (College Park), where she received her Ph.D. in United States history. She lectures widely to scholarly and community-based groups and has presented to national and international audiences on topics that range from Alexis de Tocqueville’s influence on American politics to community-building among American free blacks in Civil War-era Canada, to African American responses to Abraham Lincoln’s wartime policies.
Dr. Medford has served as the Director for History of New York’s African Burial Ground Project and edited the volume Historical Perspectives of the African Burial Ground: New York Blacks and the Diaspora (volume 3 of the series, The New York African Burial Ground: Unearthing the African Presence in Colonial New York). history report. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on African Americans, especially during the era of the Civil War. Her publications include the co-authored The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views. She compiled and wrote the introductions to the edited two-volume work The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War - Volume I, and The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War - Volume II.
Dr. Medford has served as a faculty mentor to the Ronald McNair Scholars since 1998, and she has been the faculty sponsor for the campus chapter of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society for 24 years. She is a former member of the Board of Trustees of National History Day, Inc., a member of the Executive Committee of the Lincoln Forum, and chairperson of the Scholars Advisory Council at President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Armed Services Retirement Home in Washington, DC. She serves on the board of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, the Ulysses S. Grant Association, the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College (Galesburg, Illinois), and the Abraham Lincoln Institute. Dr. Medford is a 2009 special bicentennial recipient of the Order of Lincoln, an award given by the state of Illinois, for her scholarship on the president.