Why We Need a Civic Season

Black and white image of two females in front of a ballot box in Fulton County

View of an unidentified poll worker and unidentified voters on election day in 1944, at a polling precinct in Atlanta, Georgia. Courtesy Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center, photographer Boyd Lewis.

Over the past few years, the entire world and the United States has been confronted by immense challenges. From the COVID-19 pandemic to contentious elections to protests for racial justice, the news cycle has been filled with stories of strife, pain, and injustice.

At Atlanta History Center, we, too, grappled with these issues as an institution. How can we as a history organization contribute? What’s our role? What’s needed from us?

In short, we need good history. Good history is well-researched, thoughtful, and relevant.  

Putting that history to work on the many challenges we’re facing today requires that we tell history from multiple perspectives and recognize the many people and experiences that have shaped the United States.

The future is ours to shape. Every day offers a new chance to write the next chapter of the United States of America—from our traditions to our policies and practices. Partner organizations from the Made By Us coalition and youth organization Civics Unplugged have come together to launch the Civic Season, stretching from Juneteenth to July 4, highlighting the complexity of the process of becoming one country by and for everyone. Held every summer between two watershed moments in our history, Civic Season is like the welcome party for the many hands involved in our democracy. Explore what you stand for—and connect with credible resources, passionate communities and avenues to amplify your voice.

We hope you will be a part of it too.

At Atlanta History Center, Civic Season looks like our Juneteenth celebration spanning the entire month of June. In addition to virtual activities including Author Talks, walking tours, and artist highlights, these activities will be supplemented by a month-long social media and content campaign aimed at highlighting and honoring Black innovation, creativity, and activism.

It also looks like our democracy initiative—using our institutional resources to explore the history of the components that makes a healthy democratic system, including methods of civic engagement, widespread and informed voter participation, civil rights, and community leadership.

Civic Season will also look like exploring offerings from organizations all across the United States, from non-partisan resources on civics education to reflective activities and destinations, taking part in the Civic Season can look many different ways.

The bottom line is that today’s issues are only solvable by a broad coalition of interested and engaged people—and that group must include the voices of young people who will shape so much of our history going forward.

The Civic Season is where the past meets the present.

We invite you to find the opportunities that make sense for your Civic Season. Attend an event to learn more about the history that informs understanding democracy, the environment, racial justice, and the other pressing issues of today. Visit your local history organization and spend some time learning and reflecting. Share your experiences with your local organization and with Made By Us.

Let’s do this—together.

Made By Us logo

The Atlanta History Center is a founding partner in leading Made By Us, along with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Monticello, the National Archives Foundation, the First Americans Museum, Atlanta History Center, HistoryMiami, Heinz History Center, New-York Historical Society, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, and Missouri Historical Society. Driven by a coalition of over 100 history museums and sites, Made By Us meets Millennials and Gen Z where they are with history to ignite, inform and inspire their civic participation.

Juneteenth 2022 at Atlanta History Center is supported by The Nissan Foundation.