Many a Chicagoan has ambled along Lincoln Avenue, a bustling thoroughfare, the heart and soul of the North side. For the Civil War aficionado, *and there are plenty of you out there, "Lincoln," is a trendy, timely subject today. With Spielberg's Oscar nominated film and Tarantino's "Django Unchained," also on the subject of slavery, both movies are sure fire 'tickets' for both historical edification and theatrical/cinematic illumination.
At a recent Q&A panel, sponsored by the Chicago Tribune, and held at the historic Field Museum, Mayor Rahm Emanuel shared many insights and personal anecdotes , letting be known his latest read, "The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War became a Revolution," by Richard Slotkin. Both he and President Obama read Lincoln's profound writings, considering them "always an extraordinary inspiration." Antietam just so happened to be the most decisive and bloody battles of the Civil War. Some 150 years later, Rahm Emanuel is ironically facing, on a lower scale, but still a daunting battle against guns, gangs, and drug violence on his own turf. Even though they lived in extremely different times, both Lincoln and Emanuel were/are dynamic, yet controversial figures, both from the state of Illinois, and each faced with immense, uphill battles, challenges, obstacles, and even failures in both social and political matters near and dear to their hearts. If you look at the movie "Lincoln," receiving much Hollywood hype and well deserved buzz, you realize that President Abraham Lincoln faced much adversity, in getting the 13th amendment passed, aiming to abolish slavery. Meanwhile, on the home front in Chicago, you have neighborhoods, black and white, both north and south sides, forever steeped in poverty, less quality education and other social maladies. Emanuel is 'fighting the good fight,' in attempting to fix huge stumbling blocks. He is like a modern day David vs. Goliath in his vision/goal for Chicago in the next two years: "For each of us to start a business...find a job... raise a family..." Mayor Rahm Emanuel proudly stated in the Q&A, in front of a crowd of politically savvy, inquisitive Chicago residents: "We're not like L.A., focused on Hollywood...we're focused on economy, education, public safety, job productivity..... Google and Motorola didn't go to Sunnyvale - they came to Chicago."
He continued, in a very optimistic tone and direction, "When I see all the kids on the 'L,' I see the promise of our city- the glimmer of downtown. That promise and potential and forever optimistic spirit is to be Mayor Rahm Emanuel's legacy. It is a far different Chicago/Illinois from Lincoln's era, yet really not so different at all. Each man was/is a fiery trailblazer of his day- Emanuel, like Obama, was inspired by Lincoln, and counts him as a role model/mentor/teacher as he faces a Chicago today that is very much divided, yet potentially united, with typical problems that face every major city. He faces the problems of gangs and drug prevalence vs. the promise of children receiving a proper education and nurturing they rightly deserve. With both similar physical builds and personal dreams, while Lincoln strove to end the Civil War, Emanuel is striving to end the war of guns and gratuitous violence for the civilian populace throughout Chicago.