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The Library of Virginia is excited to partner with Made by Us, a coalition of history museums, archives, historical societies, and civic education organizations, in inspiring and empowering Virginians to seek out trusted information on democracy and to become more active citizens.  This summer, from Juneteenth (June 19th) through July Fourth, the Library of Virginia is presenting a series of civic challenges on the topics of rights, duties, and voting that anyone can explore during the Civic Season.

What is the Civic Season?

This project, initiated last year by Made by Us, encourages participants “to kickstart a new tradition to reflect, celebrate, and build upon our complex American story.”  By promoting activities that look at our nation—where we have succeeded and where we have fallen short of our ideals—Civic Season strengthens the bonds that hold us together and recommits us to building bridges instead of walls.  Civic Season strives to make sure all of the voices from our country’s history are part of the discussion, reclaiming stories that have been overlooked or ignored.

Our list of twenty challenges, which can be found on the Library of Virginia’s Civic Season Challenge web pages, includes a range of in-person and virtual activities for individuals and groups, such as walking tours, films, and resources for discussions.  The activities can be as short as 10-15 minutes or up to an hour or more.  The activities include a mix of content from both the Library of Virginia and other nationally recognized organizations.  A survey of Virginia public libraries led us to focus the challenges on the areas of Rights, Duties, and Voting, looking at what it means to be a citizen and what our responsibilities are in that role.  We have asked all the public libraries in the state to share information about the Civic Season Challenge with their library users, and hope that the general public as well will use this pilot program to engage their communities in civic discussions and growth.

We have been living in challenging times, with calls for book banning, concerns about disenfranchisement and voting rights, and a global pandemic that has tested our commitment to each other.  At the same time, the country is struggling to come to grips with racial issues that have been overlooked or pushed aside. It is more important than ever that everyone in the country understands not only their rights but also their responsibilities to each other and to the common good.

The Fourth of July commemorates the moment when a new generation boldly articulated the values of a new nation—freedom, equality, justice, rights, and opportunity. Juneteenth, celebrated a few weeks earlier, reminds us that people in America have fought to make those values a reality over hundreds of years—and we still have work to do.

Please join us in celebrating Civic Season 2022 and start a new yearly tradition of engaging with your community and your nation.  There’s no end to making a more perfect union.

Barry Trott, Adult Services Consultant & Cindy Marks, Communications and Marketing Specialist, Library of Virginia

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