Washington and Lee University: Education and History A Year-Long Initiative

Any institution must constantly and honestly examine its history in the effort to understand who it has been and who it can become. This is particularly true at Washington and Lee, where our long and complex history parallels the history of the nation, replete with its triumphs and its tragedies.

In 2017-18, building on our highly impactful "History in the Public Sphere" project, we have planned a series of events, speakers, gatherings, and forums that will all contribute to the ongoing study of our history and our culture. Many of these programs have been planned for months; the tragic events in Charlottesville call for an expansion and focus to the programs that will broaden their reach and involve our entire community.

These programs are meant to continue and complicate our constant self-examination and self-study, as we grapple with our complex historical past and what it means for our present and our future. Our entire community is welcome to attend and participate in all of these events throughout the year. We welcome further suggestions of ways to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the challenge of who we are and what we do as a university in 21st-century America.

The currently planned events include the following (note: some are still in progress with some details yet to be confirmed):

September 6, 2017, 5:30 pm: Dr. Danielle Allen (Harvard University) delivers our Convocation Address, titled "Democracy 101: We Hold These Truths . . ." In conjunction with this address, all of our incoming first-year class had read and will discuss with faculty her seminal study, "Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality."

September 12, 2017, 12:00 pm: All are invited to an open discussion reflecting on Danielle Allen's book "Our Declaration," on Danielle Allen's convocation address, and on the meanings these events hold for our own community. This open discussion begins at noon in Hillel 101 and will last 90 minutes, but people can come and go as they please. There is no structure and no agenda, just an open invitation for discussion. Hillel Multipurpose Room

September 17, 2017, 7:30 pm: Constitution Day Speaker, Colonel Ty Seidule '84, Professor and Head of the Department of History at West Point, will give a public lecture "Robert E. Lee and Me: Reflections on Confederate Memory by a W&L Graduate, Soldier and Scholar"  Lee Chapel.

September 29, 2017, 12:00 pm: Legal historian Alfred Brophy, the D. Paul Jones Professor of Law at the University of Alabama, will deliver a lecture at Washington and Lee School of Law titled "Debating Slavery and Freedom at Washington College 1831-1861." Millhiser Moot Court Room.

October 18, 2017, 6:00 pm: Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution will deliver a lecture titled "Unpresidented: Governing in the Age of Chaos." Stackhouse Theater, John W. Elrod Commons.

November 2, 2017, 4:00 pm: Blaine Brownell, author of Washington and Lee University, 1930-2000: Tradition and Transformation will deliver a lecture on the History of W&L. Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library

January 18, 2018: Dr. Charles Dew, Professor of History, Williams College, will deliver our annual Founder's Day address. His talk is titled The Making, and Unmaking, of a Racist.

January 21, 2018: Bernice King, daughter of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. will deliver our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. address.

January 22, 2018: We will host a follow-up community discussion on Charles Dew's visit, his address, the phenomenon of "Founders," and what this means in the context of Washington and Lee University.

February 12, 2018: An invited lecture and classroom visit by Professor W. Fitzhugh Brundage, William B. Umstead Professor of History and Chair, Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  His talk is titled A Vexing and Awkward Dilemma:  The Legacy of a Confederate Landscape.  

February 15, 2018:  Conversation on Race and Hope by authors of We Are Charleson: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel 
Stackhouse Theater 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm.

March 18-24, 2018: Dr. Allen Guelzo, Henry R. Luce III Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College, and Director of the Civil War Era Studies Program, currently at work on a major new biography of Robert E. Lee, will deliver a lecture with an accompanying faculty colloquium and a followup community discussion.