Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am very pleased to celebrate the publication of the CUNY/New York Times Knowledge Network 2008 Let  Freedom Ring Calendar. Freedom is a founding principle of the United States, one whose meaning has been debated and has changed over time.

One of our country’s charter documents, the Declaration of Independence, encapsulates many of the ideas of American freedom. But when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, slaves had no rights, natural or otherwise, women could not vote and married women could own no property. Established churches were the norm, and freedom of religion was not guaranteed. Nonetheless, the promise of freedom that came out of the American Revolution has been used to redefine, and eventually expand, who is considered free and what freedom means. The historical events detailed throughout the calendar demonstrate that we cannot be assured of our freedom unless we are vigilant in protecting it.

The Let Freedom Ring calendar, Web site, and curricula have been guided by CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Jay Hershenson and President Gail Mellow of LaGuardia Community College. They turned to Dr. Richard K. Lieberman, director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College, to implement their vision, develop the calendar and help plan appropriate outreach. For 29 years, the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives has produced exemplary calendars and lesson plans on a variety of subjects, including the history of the New York City Council, the origins of public housing, voting rights and citizenship, and, most recently, immigrants. Dr. Lieberman, his colleague Dr. Steven A. Levine, and other researchers combed the vast resources of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and The New York Times Photo Archives to produce the one-of-a-kind images, historical documents, and period material that fill the Let Freedom Ring Calendar. The calendar benefited from the work of some of CUNY’s finest scholars, including Joshua Brown, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Carol Groneman, and Gerald Markowitz, whose participation underscores the integrity of the content.

The commitment of the calendar’s sponsors has been particularly gratifying, and I am especially grateful to The New York Times Knowledge Network. I offer special thanks to JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, Kimberly Davis, President of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and Vice President Tim Noble, Vice President Kim Jasmin and Senior Vice President Leonard Colica of JPMorgan Chase for their generous assistance and support. I also express my appreciation to Chairman,  President and Chief Executive Officer Herbert M. Allison, Jr. of TIAA-CREF for his continued support and assistance. 

Thanks are also due to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Vice President Thomas Newell of the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. Their historic support and funding of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and its calendars and curricula has helped the Archives to preserve history and make it available and accessible to the public. This project, of course, builds on the success of previous CUNY/New York Times Knowledge Network calendars including the 2007 Nation of Immigrants Calendar, the 2006 Women’s Leadership Calendar, and the 2005 Voting Rights and Citizenship Calendar, published with the generous help of JPMorgan Chase and TIAA-CREF.

We are deeply appreciative of our ongoing partnership with our esteemed colleagues at The New York Times Knowledge Network, in particular Vice President for Brand Programs Alyse Myers, Education Marketing Director Felice Nudelman, Manager of Corporate Partnerships-Education Craig Dunn, Newspaper in Education Manager Stephanie Doba, and Executive Director of Corporate Communication Diane McNulty. A formal collaboration was established to make the calendar widely accessible and to facilitate the curricular elements. The New York Times Photo Archives generously contributed photographs. Because the concept of freedom continues to be widely debated, the project is designed to reach the widest possible audience. This interactive Web site includes research and images that could not be included in the calendar because of space limitations, and has links to additional documents and organizations for a fuller investigation of the topic. Both the calendar and the Web site are also published in Spanish. In addition, research from the calendar will be used to develop curricula for seventh/eighth- and eleventh-grade students. The lessons will teach students to interpret original documents and help them prepare for document-based questions used in both the New York State Department of Education and Board of Regents examinations.

The Let Freedom Ring Calendar is a work of scholarship, and each month looks at the history of  freedom through a thematic perspective, such as slavery and emancipation, women’s equality, westward expansion, the Cold War, and civil rights. Through these themes, we are able to understand the different meanings of freedom in the United States, how these meanings have driven our nation’s history, and how the idea of freedom, and the rights upon which it is based, has changed over time. The University takes great pride in the partnerships that allow this calendar to reach students and citizens of all ages and to the central role of education in letting freedom ring throughout our city, state, and nation. 

Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor