50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Act centerpiece of annual Harding Symposium

News Release Date: 
06.30.14

The 6th annual Warren G. Harding Symposium welcomes civil rights leaders and experts from around the country to Marion, Ohio to discuss the civil rights movement and the U.S. Presidency

On July 18-19, 2014, The Ohio State University at Marion’s Warren G. Harding Symposium will present Prelude to the 1960’s: The United States Presidency and Civil Rights, highlighting both the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

This year’s symposium will focus on the influence that the Oval Office has had on the modern Civil Rights Movement.
This year’s keynote speaker will feature Andrew Young.  Young has always viewed his career through the lens of his first career- that of ordained minister. His work for civil and human rights, his many years in public office as Congressman, United Nations Ambassador and Mayor of Atlanta, his leadership of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games, his advocacy of investment in Africa through GoodWorks International, and the establishment of the Andrew J. Young Foundation are all a response to his call to serve.

Ambassador Young brings a unique perspective formed by his wealth of experience in national and global leadership to his focus on the challenges of this era. He confronted segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and galvanized a movement that transformed a nation through non-violence. Young was a key strategist and negotiator during the Civil Rights Campaigns in Birmingham and Selma that resulted in the passage Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The two day event will kick off Friday, July 18th with an opening wine and dessert reception in Morrill Hall Lobby on the campus of The Ohio State University at Marion, 1465 Mount Vernon Avenue, Marion, Ohio.  Friday’s opening reception address will be given by Harding researcher and site manager for the Harding Home and Memorial Sherry Hall.  Hall will discuss the remarkable speech given by President Harding on October 26, 1921 in Birmingham, Alabama, when he became the first president since Abraham Lincoln to challenge the nation on political equality and equal treatment under the law.  

On Saturday, July 19th tours of President Harding’s Home will begin at 9 a.m.  At 10:30 a.m., the annual Presidential Wreath-Laying Ceremony will be held at The Harding Tomb final resting place of President and Mrs. Warren G. Harding, and widely regarded as the most impressive presidential monument outside of Washington, D.C.

Following lunch, the symposium moves back to the Marion campus from 1:00-4:30 p.m. with informational workshop sessions lead by distinguished panel of researchers and experts.

Saturday Afternoon Workshop Presentations:
Workshop presenters include Dr. David A. Nichols, a leading expert on the Truman and Eisenhower presidencies, and the author of “A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution.”  Dr. Kent Germany, the editor of “LBJ and Civil Rights: The Presidential Recordings”, will then detail the efforts of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson which culminated with the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A gala dinner and keynote address by Ambassador Andrew Young in Maynard Hall’s Guthery Community Room will provide closing backdrop for the 2014 symposium event.  In his address, A Continuing Legacy, Young will relate a behind-the-scenes account of some of the most important events in the second half of the 20th century.  Young will also reveal triumphant moments he shared with civil rights movement leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, as well as vivid portrayals of such historic figures as John and Robert Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover, and Lyndon Johnson.

The Warren G. Harding Symposium is an academic, social, and cultural exploration of the life and times of America’s 29th president.  Each summer the symposium develops programs designed to stimulate new research and highlight the Harding Era and other related topics in American History.  Since its inception in 2009, the symposium has steadily grown in popularity.  Past themes have included The Man, the Myth, and the Legacy; The Western Trip: Discovery, Understanding, and the Death of a President; and America at a Crossroads: The 1920 Presidential Campaign. 

Nationally known authors, historians, and researchers have presented at symposium events including James Robenalt, Sherry Hall, James Geraghty, Dr. Warren G. Harding III, Dr. David Stratton, Dr. Kevin Corder, and Dr. Christina Wolbrecht.  The 2013 event, Scandals and the United States Presidency, featured former Nixon White House counsel and key figure in the Watergate Scandal, John Dean.  It attracted participants from eleven states and Canada.

For questions on this year’s Harding Symposium contact Gary Iams at 740-725-6253, email iams.18@osu.edu or for more information or to register visit:  http://osumarion.osu.edu/harding.

2014 Warren G. Harding Symposium Partners:  Dennis & Sara Trachsel Foundation, Fahey Bank, Harding Home & Memorial, Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Ohio Historical Society, The Marion Community Foundation, and The Ohio State University at Marion