The Gettysburg Address

by Abraham Lincoln

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What is the unfinished "work" of the Civil War soldiers who died?

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In this context, the "work" of (Northern) Civil War soldiers can be understood as a precursor to modern civil rights activism and the fight for racial equity.

In social justice dialogue, the "work" of a movement is generally understood to be the means and labor undertaken to reach its broader goals. If the work of the union was to fight for the abolition of Black slavery, the continuation of that work would include confronting the inequities that still persist in this country.

Because Black people are still marginalized by many of this country's established systems, continuing this work could mean a wide variety of things. It might mean working to close the racial wealth gap, which still ensures that an average Black family's net worth remains statistically lower than an average white family's. It might mean advocating for reform in the justice system so that Black people aren't disproportionally incarcerated. Finally, it might mean advocating for justice in the health system so that Black patients, who often receive substandard care, can get equivalent services to white patients.

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