Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

The excitement for our 120th Lincoln Tribute Dinner is building as we approach May 16 and I can hardly wait. Everything seems to be building to a crescendo and the Kalamazoo Republicans seem to be responding to the call for a sig- nificant celebration of our party’s history and its most notable member, Abraham Lincoln.

It blows me away knowing that this will be the 120th time we’ve gathered in this county to take time to tribute this great president and – in today’s term – humanitarian. The role Lincoln played in preserving the union and ending slavery is worthy of our tribute all these years later. The legacy of President Lincoln has been a tremendous part of our nation’s history and is a big part of the Republican Party’s history. Lincoln’s achievements and his sacrifice are well engrained into our nation’s story. It is fitting that we take time to honor him here in Kalamazoo since our local community and our party are linked to this man’s life.

May 16 will be a date the KGOP will pay homage to our 16th president and our party’s roots, which are traced back to Michigan in the 1850s. One of the auspicious moments in our state’s history is that the party’s first convention was held in Jackson on July 6, 1854. Many say this is the day the Republican Party began.

Equally prestigious is the fact that Lincoln gave his only public speech in Michigan in Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park on Aug. 27, 1856. In a busy political rally that included four separate stages going simultaneously, Lincoln delivered a 10-minute speech that aligned the future president against the slavery issue and he even alluded to supporting women’s voting rights. If you attend the Lincoln Tribute Dinner you will be treated to a heartfelt speech by former state senator Cameron Brown during the evening. The 1856 speech Lincoln gave in Kalamazoo has also been preserved and will appear in our program for the event.

The Republican Party was founded in a time where citizens didn’t have equal rights under the law. Slavery was woven into the fabric of life in the South. Women couldn’t vote. The Republican Party played an instrumental role in establishing these rights and Abraham Lincoln, specifically through the Emancipation Proclamation, delivered freedom to the slaves and skillfully kept this nation one during the most volatile time in our history. And his life was taken because of the bigotry and hatred that resulted over these issues.

Our party’s history is filled with remarkable stories of political sacrifice and outstanding individuals, but none greater than the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. I look forward to our 120th Lincoln Tribute Dinner on Saturday, May 16, and believe it will be an evening of celebration and remembrance of our greatest presi- dent and mighty accomplishments he made to ensure that our country endures.

If you haven’t ordered your tickets to the Lincoln Tribute Dinner, please do so by going to our website at You don’t want to miss a fabulous dinner at the Radisson and a tremendous speaker in Congressman Kevin McCarthy. Kevin is the Majority Floor Leader – the No. 2 man behind Speaker of the House John Boehner – and will have plenty to say about the inner workings of Washington politics. Hope to see you there!