Emmy and Tony Award winning actor, Hal Holbrook, addresses 2016 Lincoln College graduates and conferred honorary doctorate

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[May 15, 2016]  LINCOLN - Lincoln College Trustee Louise Taper sponsored Emmy and Tony Award winning actor, Hal Holbrook, for this year’s honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.

Holbrook has performed in many and diverse roles over the years for stage, television, and movies, receiving numerous awards for his craft.

In his most famous character role, a one man show, Holbrook channels Mark Twain. The Mark Twain role was one of his first when he graduated from college. His performances in the Twain role have taken him all over the world for over seventy years.

No less auspicious, has been Holbrook’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln for a television series and his appearance in the recent widely acclaimed movie “Lincoln.”

As the only actor to win an Emmy Award for his role as Abraham Lincoln, it was a great honor that he accepted the invitation from Lincoln College to serve as keynote speaker and to be conferred the honorary doctorate on this day.

While on campus, Holbrook graciously imparted his wisdom with graduating theatre students in an intimate setting Master’s Class on Friday afternoon, and then returned to campus Saturday as keynote speaker for the 2016 Lincoln College Commencement.

But before Holbrook would begin to speak, Lincoln College President David Gerlach, PhD., and Vice President for Academic Affairs A. Gigi Fansler, would confer him with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. According to the college, A. Lincoln was known and respected for simplicity, sincerity, and high achievement. The honorary degree awards are periodically bestowed “to individuals whose accomplishments and character are such as might have been admired by Mr. Lincoln himself.”

Mr. Holbrook’s address began with his great admiration for Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln is a signal light for the country, like no one else in history,” he said. “He grew from a country boy living on the plains of Illinois to become a lawyer, state legislator, member of congress, and then President of the United States at a time when the country was facing its most dangerous period,” Holbrook said.

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Mr. Holbrook mentioned that a person can go anywhere in the world and Mr. Lincoln is recognized as one of the greatest men in history.

 “Abraham Lincoln’s greatest asset was that he listened to the people. He held democracy to be precious, and that we are all responsible for maintaining the success of our democratic nation,” said Holbrook.

Mr. Holbrook said that listening to one another is in short supply these days, but is one of the most important tenants for the success of democracy. “We need to listen to each other, and Mr. Lincoln is a symbol to all of us. His words constantly remind us what our country is all about, the people are important,” he said.

Holbrook said it was his great honor to portray Lincoln. “I learned a lot from my portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, about listening,” he said. With that, Hal Holbrook charged the new graduates of Lincoln College to leave with their new degrees, grab hold of the world and make it better.

[Curtis Fox]


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