Oberlin College’s History Still Deeply Relevant

 Congratulations, Oberlin, on your remarkable history as a town and institution. I believe that Editor-in-Chief Nathan Carpenter’s “hope to fully understand our present-day challenges” should remain a driving force of his series (“Oberlin’s Early History Rooted in Religious Convictions,” The Oberlin Review, Sept. 20, 2019). Oberlin’s last 100 years provide a testament to the sources of your generation’s acute challenges now and in the years ahead. And Henry Churchill King, Oberlin’s longest serving president — and a former Review editor — will prove to be the prophet of the age. 

On Sept. 27, 1919, King, the internationally-honored mathematician, ethicist, theologian, orator, and founding member of the iconic Oberlin NAACP, spoke for Oberlin and the world when he delivered to the Office of the President of the United States the King-Crane Commission Report on the status and interested party preferences for disposition of the lands of the defeated Ottoman Empire following World War I. King had been chosen for the role of co-chairman of the commission by President Woodrow Wilson. The commission’s official name was the American Section of the Inter-Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey. The details and supporting documents of the commission reside in The Oberlin Review’s archives (“Peace Leader in Oberlin’s Past,” Nov. 6, 1998). I hope that the significance of those details and the story of the suppression of the commission report for three years following its submission to President Wilson will find its way into your narrative in the semester ahead.