A plan to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's only visit to Michigan kicks into high gear in Kalamazoo in 2019. Supporters have been working on the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Project since 2011.
Spokesman Cameron Brown says it has three parts.
"It includes a piece of statuary art to be placed in Bronson Park where Lincoln spoke on August 27th, 1856. Permission has been granted by the City Commission to place a privately funded bronze statue of Lincoln in Bronson Park."
Brown says a public capital campaign to raise $300,000 for the statue will begin in January.
"And concurrent with that will be a penny drive in our local schools. This project is resonating well. And, yes, some people don't know about Lincoln's visit, but that's what's the project's all about. It's an untapped asset for Kalamazoo."
Brown says a a design for the statue should be presented to Kalamazoo city commissioners for their approval in August 2019. It will be placed near the spot in the park where Lincoln spoke in 1856, giving a speech supporting the first Republican Party nominee for president, John C. Frémont. Lincoln was elected president four years later.
Brown says the project will also include educational programs and a youth leadership initiative based on Lincoln's values.
"We find that we can teach young people values in the context of Abraham Lincoln and there's agreement. There's not discord or division; Lincoln crosses all political divides. And I think those values are well known: hard work, honesty, personal responsibility, compassion, fairness - the sky's the limit."
Lincoln served while the nation was rent by civil war and slavery. Brown says his words and deeds still have meaning, and teach lessons, as the country faces a new era of division and uncertainty.