A group that is devoted to the legacy of Springfield's favorite son will install its first African American and first female president this month.
Kathryn Harris will assume the duties of the Abraham Lincoln Association Thursday. She's been vice president for nearly two years and has been a longtime board member.
"I am hoping to bring the attention of the community to the Abraham Lincoln Association through more diverse ways and get more membership and interest from other groups including African Americans and young people," she said.
Harris said Lincoln's life shows lessons that can be helpful during the racially divisive world of today. "He wasn't just the president of the union states, he was President of the United States."
Harris sees a potential for forums about race in the community.
The Association was formed in 1909 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. Through the years, it has honored Lincoln during numerous events. Most recently, the anniversary of his funeral. The group also holds an annual symposium and banquet.
Harris recently retired as Director of Library Services at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. She had also served as a librarian for the SIU Medical School, Illinois State Library, the former Sangamon State University, Springfield's Lincoln Public Library and Florida International University.
"I just can't say just how honored it makes me feel, but at the same time how humbled to have this role," she said.
The Abraham Lincoln Association banquet on February 12 will feature Bernice King, daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King. It will take place at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in downtown Springfield. Tickets are needed for the event.