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Jon Meacham on the NBC News set outside the funeral of Sen. John McCain, at the Washington National Cathedral in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

For the finale of the Democratic National Convention, historian Jon Meacham will speak from Nashville, urging Americans to remember that "history, which will surely be our judge, can also be our guide. ... From Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, we're at our best when we build bridges, not walls."

The assignment from the Democratic Party was spare yet daunting: Define "The Soul of America," the title of Meacham's 2018 bestseller. Oh, and please keep it under five minutes.

Previewing his remarks, Meacham, who also eulogized George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush in 2018, told me the common denominator of the best of American history is liberation and hope, not fear and selfishness:

It's not a partisan issue. Presidents from Truman to Reagan to Bush 41 prevailed in the Cold War, which was about freedom versus tyranny. And at home, do you want to be Bull Connor, or John Lewis? Joe McCarthy, or Margaret Chase Smith? Do you want to tear down, or do you want to build?

Meacham speaks from his library, surrounded by photos and posters from past presidential campaigns — including a portrait of Lewis, Meacham's latest subject ("His Truth Is Marching On," out Tuesday).

  • "By habit, I see the world historically and theologically," said Meacham, a devout Episcopalian and author of 10 books. "History and theology tell us we're at our best when we look outward rather than inward."

Meacham's roots are in journalism: He said he's voted for candidates of both parties, and has never endorsed a candidate before.

  • "This president poses such a clear and present danger to the things we should value most that I think it's incumbent on all of us who believe that to say something."
  • "Joe Biden is a good man. We need him."
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Go deeper

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that he cannot support President Trump's re-election.

Why it matters: Hogan, a moderate governor in a blue state, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.

2 mins ago - Health

CDC updates guidance on airborne COVID-19

A patron eats lunch in March at Philippe The Original near downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The CDC acknowledged Friday that airborne spread of COVID-19 among people more than 6 feet apart "has been repeatedly documented."

Why it matters: This is "a change from the agency’s previous position that most infections were acquired through 'close contact, not airborne transmission,'" the N.Y. Times reports.

10 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.