‘Speaking of Freedom’ Nov. 13

History will come to life on the stage of the Memorial Hall Auditorium, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, when the program “Speaking of Freedom: Great Speeches of American History” is presented. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the program will feature costumed re-enactors presenting some of the most famous speeches from America’s past. Hosted by the Lincoln-Douglas Society of Freeport, the program is open to the public free of charge.

Following the flow of our nation’s past, such speeches as Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death!,” Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” will be brought to life again, interwoven with a narrative that sets forth the key place each speech holds in our nation’s history.

The program was the idea of Winnebago resident James Finch, a student at Rock Valley College. During the program, Finch will portray Patrick Henry as he gave his inspiring “Give Me Liberty” speech before the Virginia Assembly in arguing for the arming of that state against the British in 1775.

George Buss, an instructional facilitator at Freeport High School, will portray Abraham Lincoln, delivering Lincoln’s 1864 Second Inaugural Address. This speech helped change the focus of the United States Civil War from one of preserving the Union to one of abolishing slavery. President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1900 “The New Americanism” speech will be presented by Richard Sokup, a retired Freeport businessman. Buss and Sokup have presented programs both locally and nationally on the Lincoln-Douglas Debates for many years.

William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech will be performed by James Winker, a Freeport High School history and government teacher. The famous Bryan address to the 1896 Democratic Convention is noted for both propelling Bryan into the national political spotlight, as well as focusing attention on the plight of farmers and miners in the American West.

“Ar’n’t I a Woman?”, the noted speech by Sojourner Truth to a women’s rights meeting, will be presented by Lafrancine Baker. Truth’s 1851 remarks pointed to the plight of women prior to their receiving the right to vote, and to the additional barriers which faced African-American women. Baker teaches English at Freeport Junior High School.

“All of my sex are doomed to political subjection,” extracted remarks of Susan B. Anthony prepared for her trial for voting in the 1872 presidential election, will be enacted by Pat Leitzen Fye. Susan B. Anthony was one of the leaders of the suffrage movement to pass the right to vote for women. Fye is the marketing and business manager for Christopher Fey and Associates of Freeport, and is a member of the executive board of the League of Women Voters of Freeport.

“The Four Freedoms” speech of Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1941 outlined the basic human rights ideals that have motivated the United States since World War II. FDR will be portrayed by Freeport High School drama instructor Tim Connors in presenting the speech that later became the basis for the Charter of the United Nations.

Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” address during the March on Washington in 1963 crystallized the aims of the Civil Rights movement. King’s words will be portrayed by Kevin M. Cooley, a Marquette University debater and student.

The narrative that weaves together the famous speeches of this program was written by Dr. Edward Finch, an American Studies and English teacher at Freeport High School.

Memorial Hall is located at 211 N. Main St., across from the Rockford Public Library. A free will offering will be accepted at the end of the performance.

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