As part of NRI’s mission to preserve and promote the legacy of WFB, in 2015 it launched The Buckley Legacy Project, designed to make Buckley’s work on crucial, relevant topics accessible to our supporters, friends, and allies within the conservative movement, and, importantly, to a new generation of conservatives. The Buckley Legacy Project Advisory Committee, consisting of Richard Brookhiser, Matthew Continetti, Lee Edwards, Alvin Felzenberg, Jack Fowler, Neal Freeman, Kathryn Jean Lopez, and John O’Sullivan, with Lindsay Craig and Rich Lowry, was formed in 2019. The committee serves as a clearinghouse for new WFB projects, provides advice and guidance, and participates in Buckley Legacy events around the country.
To commemorate Buckley’s life and impact following the tenth anniversary of his passing, we hosted a well-attended and highly successful legacy event series, “Remembering William F. Buckley Jr.”, around the country. Other projects related to the Buckley legacy include a series of conferences in partnership with the Hoover Institution to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Firing Line, the republication of Buckley’s campaign memoir, The Unmaking of a Mayor, and the eventual publication of booklets of Buckley’s writings that are focused around NR’s editorial priorities and NRI’s four thought centers. The material, also sorted by historical anniversary and topic, will be promoted via social media. In this way, Buckley’s legacy will impact an even greater range of American citizens.
The Tenth Anniversary of William F. Buckley Jr.’s Passing
In Celebration of the Life and Legacy of the Founder of the Conservative Movement
February 2018 marked ten years since William F. Buckley Jr.’s passing. To celebrate his revered life and his powerful legacy, National Review Institute hosted half-day forums in cities across the country that reflected on Bill’s accomplishments and highlighted the role of the NR mission today. To read more about the events, visit our page about our 2018 Regional Seminars. To view C-SPAN coverage of our New York event, click here.
Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr.
Princeton, NJ & Washington, D.C.
Among its duties and mission, National Review Institute takes very seriously its responsibility to protect, promote, and enhance the consequence and ongoing influence of Bill Buckley, which is accomplished through NRI’s Buckley Legacy Project. In this time of so much political news, a major historical work that focuses on Bill Buckley’s view of and relationship with over 10 presidents is worthy of our attention and understanding. We thank our friend, Al Felzenberg, author of A Man and His Presidents (Yale University Press, 2017), for his important book about Bill Buckley and his political odyssey. Two NRI trustees—Peter J. Travers and Brian Murdock—graciously hosted events for us with Professor Felzenberg, in Princeton, NJ (following a lecture sponsored by the James Madison Program at Princeton University) and Washington, D.C. respectively. Both evenings were filled with insightful remarks and spirited conversation about our founder, WFB.
A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century
New York, NY
On October 7, 2016, National Review Institute hosted a book discussion with author James Rosen in conversation with Christopher Buckley, expertly moderated by NRI fellow Reihan Salam. The panelists discussed Rosen’s new book, A Torch Kept Lit (Crown Forum, 2016), which highlights WFB’s mastery of the eulogy while shedding light on the greatest figures of his time. More than that, it is a tribute to Bill’s profound perspectives, unique voice, and honorable legacy.
To watch the full discussion, please click here.
Firing Line’s Golden Anniversary Celebration
Dallas | New York | Washington
In April 1966, William F. Buckley Jr. took his conservative message beyond the pages of National Review magazine, and directly to the American public, through Firing Line. This iconic television program was at the vanguard of the new media of his time, as Buckley challenged liberal opponents in spirited debate over their disparate ideological principles. Through Firing Line, Bill Buckley influenced the millions of Americans who tuned in weekly for intelligent discussion—of key events, of core principles, and of leading policy makers—between powerful voices on the Left and Right. The Hoover Institution Library & Archives, which houses an extensive array of documents, transcripts, photographs, and film footage in its Firing Line collection, works to make Buckley’s episodes broadly accessible, digitally and in public settings.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Buckley’s Emmy Award-winning program—the longest-running public-affairs show in television history with a single host—NRI partnered with the Hoover Institution Library & Archives to host a series of events spring in Dallas, New York City, and Washington, D.C. True to Buckley’s legacy, the format for these events was centered on civilized debate and a discussion of topics such as immigration, the current state of political discourse, and, of course, the lessons that Bill Buckley can still teach us today. Each program opened with remarks by those who knew and worked with Buckley personally. In Dallas, this was NRI fellow Jonah Goldberg; in New York City, L. Brent Bozell III and Richard Brookhiser; and in Washington, D.C., L. Brent Bozell III, Lee Edwards, and NR’s Ramesh Ponnuru. Each spoke of Buckley’s profound legacy and the tremendous impact of Firing Line, discussing their thoughts on what made Firing Line great, and whether its magic could be replicated today.
In Dallas and New York, the second part was a classic debate in an homage to the Firing Line legacy of discourse and debate. The Dallas event was hosted at the newly constructed Old Parkland Debate Chambers, and featured NR editor in chief Rich Lowry and NR senior editor and NRI fellow Reihan Salam in debate with Linda Chavez and Timothy Kane on immigration policy. In the New York City debate, Lowry and Salam again faced off against Kane, who was joined by Jason Riley. Each team member provided opening remarks, followed by cross-examination by a member of the opposing team. Moderators William McGurn of The Wall Street Journal and Professor Christopher Wolfe, University of Dallas, expertly guided the spirited discussion.
The Washington, D.C. program featured a conversation between Margaret Hoover, Senator James Talent, and Michael Franc, Hoover’s DC-based Director of Programs, on American political discourse and Buckley’s legacy.
The Unmaking of a Mayor
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Encounter Books republished William F. Buckley Jr.’s book, The Unmaking of a Mayor (Encounter Books, 2015), about his run for mayor against John Lindsay in 1965. While Buckley did not reach Gracie Mansion, his undeterred focus on his conservative principles had an important impact on the political culture, including encouraging Ronald Reagan to run for governor. In fall 2015, NRI co-hosted a forum with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research to promote the republication of Buckley’s book.