Event Video

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  • Author Henry Wiencek examines our first president’s long struggle with the issue of slavery, an experience that moved him to free all his slaves upon his death.
    An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves and the Creation of America - Henry Wiencek
    Wednesday, February 20, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    George Washington was a slave owner, a fact which he described as his “only unavoidable subject of regret.” So much did he regret it that in his will Washington made the startling decision to free his slaves. Author Henry Wiencek, who in 2012 spoke at the Library about Thomas Jefferson’s attitudes toward slavery, now examines the relationship between the most iconic of our Founding Fathers and the “peculiar institution.”

  • Walter Stahr examines the
    Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man
    Tuesday, February 12, 2013
    Central Library

    In 1860 William Henry Seward was poised to become the Republican nominee for president, only to lose to Abraham Lincoln.

    Now, on Lincoln’s birthday, historian Walter Stahr describes how the two put aside their rivalry, with Seward becoming Lincoln’s Secretary of State and closest adviser during the Civil War. He was so important that John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators targeted Seward along with the President.

    A former lawyer, Stahr is also the author of John Jay: Founding Father.

  • A screening of the Denzel Washington film The Great Debaters is followed by biographer Robert Farnsworth’s discussion of the life and work of African-American poet Melvin B. Tolson.
    Robert Farnsworth: Beyond the Great Debaters: The Real Melvin B. Tolson
    Wednesday, February 6, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Celebrate the 115th birthday of Melvin Tolson, a one-time Kansas City resident who graduated from Lincoln High School and eventually became the first Poet Laureate of Liberia.

    Start with a screening of the 2007 Denzel Washington film The Great Debaters, the Hollywood version about how Tolson led black college students to a 1935 national debate championship.

  • Historian Ethan S. Rafuse examines a tumultuous year in the history of the Army of the Potomac, when  Gen. “Fighting” Joe Hooker took over a demoralized and bruised force and restored its effectiveness, only to lose the battle of Chancellorsville and be replaced by George Meade.
    “Fighting” Joe Hooker and the Challenge of Command in 1863 - Ethan S. Rafuse
    Thursday, January 24, 2013
    Central Library

    Historian Ethan S. Rafuse examines a tumultuous year in the history of the Army of the Potomac, when Gen. “Fighting” Joe Hooker took over a demoralized and bruised Union force and restored its effectiveness, only to lose the battle of Chancellorsville and be replaced by George Meade.

    Rafuse is professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

    Co-sponsored by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Foundation.

  • Kauffman Foundation senior scholar Brink Lindsey analyzes how the rich are getting richer while the poor are trapped in a vicious cycle. According to his new book, narrowing the growing wealth gap demands a major investment in “human capital.”
    Human Capitalism - Brink Lindsey
    Wednesday, January 23, 2013
    Central Library

    Narrowing the growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of us demands a major investment in “human capital,” according to Kauffman Foundation senior scholar Brink Lindsey.

    In his new book Lindsey analyzes how the rich are getting richer while the poor are trapped in a vicious cycle. He offers an ambitious plan calling for educational reform, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, increasing early intervention for at-risk children, low-wage job subsidies, and penal reform.

    Formerly, Lindsey was vice president for research at the Cato Institute.

  • Steve Kraske of KCUR’s Up to Date moderates a panel of experts discussing Kansas City’s financial planning and budgeting process. This will be the first of four forums identifying and exploring key municipal public policy issues facing Kansas City.
    What Is Kansas City’s Long-Range Financial Plan?
    Thursday, January 17, 2013
    Central Library

    Steve Kraske of KCUR’s Up to Date moderates a panel discussion about Kansas City’s financial planning. Featured city officials and experts include City Manager Troy Schulte, Chair of the City Council Finance Committee Jan Marcason, certified public accountant and representative of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City James Gegg, and University of Kansas Associate Professor of Public Administration Alfred Ho.

  • Author/musician/rickshaw driver Eric Brende offers new lyrics for a Christmas favorite that reflect a greener, cleaner, more frugal approach to celebrating the holidays.
    The Twelve Days of Christmas, Revisited - Eric Brende
    Thursday, December 6, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    Ever get the feeling that Christmas has morphed into something it was never supposed to be?

    How did a celebration of joy, togetherness, love, and hope transmute into an extended shopping spree accounting for 25 percent of annual consumer spending? 

  • Drawing on exclusive access to Joseph Kennedy’s papers, historian David Nasaw offers a portrait of a complicated man – financier, filmmaker, kingmaker, and father of a president.
    The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy - David Nasaw
    Tuesday, December 4, 2012
    Central Library

    Was he an anti-Semite and a Nazi sympathizer? An appeaser and isolationist?

    For all his public activities – financier, film producer, kingmaker, father of a president - Joseph P. Kennedy remains an elusive figure. Historian David Nasaw draws on exclusive access to Kennedy’s papers to explore the complicated personality.

    Nasaw is Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Distinguished Professor of American History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

  • Biographer Jonathan Steinberg allows Otto von Bismarck’s contemporaries to tell the story of this German statesman who united a nation but had only contempt for his fellow man.
    Jonathan Steinberg - Bismarck: A Life
    Thursday, November 29, 2012
    Central Library

    In the late 19th century statesman Otto von Bismarck unified Germany while embodying everything brutal and ruthless about Prussian culture. Biographer Jonathan Steinberg allows Bismarck’s friends and foes to tell the story of this complex giant: a hypochondriac with the constitution of an ox and a brutal tyrant who could easily shed tears.

    Steinberg is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Modern European History at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Michael Scheibach examines how Americans – especially impressionable young people - coped with the threat of nuclear annihilation during the height of the Cold War.
    Michael Scheibach - Living with the Atomic Bomb
    Wednesday, November 28, 2012
    Central Library

    A specialist in the Atomic Age, Michael Scheibach examines how Americans in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s dealt with the threat of nuclear annihilation with an emphasis on the impact of Civil Defense drills, merchandising campaigns using atomic imagery, and popular entertainments like comic books and science fiction movies.