In 2013, it was the privilege of the History Department to host the McManis Lecture Series. It was our pleasure to host Dr. Vernon Burton. Burton is Distinguished Professor of History and Computer Science at Clemson University. A nationally recognized expert on the history of race relations in America, Professor Burton has been involved as an expert witness in more than 100 discrimination and voting rights cases across the past three decades. He is also the author of numerous books, including The Age of Lincoln (Hill and Wang, 2008), which won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Literary Award for Nonfiction.
Dr. Burton's first lecture was entitled "Lincoln, The Emancipation Proclamation, and Education." In this lecture, Professor Burton used the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation as an occasion to explore the significance of that critical milestone in history. Professor Burton focused on the legacy of President Lincoln's understanding of liberty with particular attention to its implications for education. He revealed how the struggles of the newly freed people should remind us that liberty requires education, and education demands liberty.
His second lecture was entitled "The Voting Rights Act & the Courts." Although the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act marked a great legislative victory in the struggle for political equality in the United States, it is now increasingly vilified. Professor Burton contends that historians have a responsibility both to the courts and to the general public to explain the history, purpose, and efficacy of the Voting Rights Act. Professor Burton shared how his Christian faith informs his commitment as an expert witness for minorities in discrimination and voting cases.
This lecture series, co-sponsored by the History Department and the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College, was free and open to the public. In 2013-14, the McManis Lecture Series will be hosted by the Philosophy Department.