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Lincoln and Thomas Paine in Pasadena

Abraham Lincoln (Tom Kastis), Thomas Paine (Ian Ruskin) and Angelina Grimke (Alaine Lowell) discuss issues in the post-Emancipation Proclamation United States. Photos by Iris Schneider.

In honor of President's Day, the Thomas Paine Society, housed in the historic Castle Green building in Pasadena, recreated Paine's Headstrong Evening Club with debate, libations and rousing conversation on the topic, "Race in America: How Far Have We Come Since Slavery?" The evening was a breath of fresh air where civility ruled.

It wasn't a full debate, but rather a little bit of history and entertainment that included much audience participation from educated and well-read participants. There were mentions of Te-Nehisi Coates, "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander and reparations for slavery. The Thomas Paine Society's mission, as stated in their pamphlet is "to educate the public about...Thomas Paine's legacy of inspiring citizens to take action for change by disseminating information about freedom, equality, justice, religion and democratic ideals."

It made me wish I could watch the Republican debate of Lincoln-Douglas instead of Ted Cruz, Donald J. Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio et al yell at each other from behind their podiums.

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