Why We Need a Civic Season

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 year, 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.

This summer, along with history and civics organizations across the country, we invite you to join in a program dedicated to just that—the Civic Season.

Partner organizations from the Made By Us coalition and youth organization Civics Unplugged have come together to launch the first-ever Civic Season, stretching from Juneteenth to July 4, highlighting the complexity of the process of becoming one country by and for everyone.

We hope you will be a part of it too.

At Atlanta History Center, Civic Season looks like a virtual 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.

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. Plug into an online 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.

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 2021 at Atlanta History Center is supported by The Nissan Foundation.