Civic Imagination, Civic Action

Posted by Mary Hendra on June 1, 2020

Over the last 2 months, I've had the immense pleasure of interviewing three individuals with unique and powerful perspectives on civic engagement.

  • Dolores Huerta, civil rights icon and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, whose activism for 7 decades inspires and compels others to act.
  • Eric Marcus, whose interviews of LGBTQ civil rights activists (now shared through the Making Gay History podcast) illuminates the courage of individuals to raise their voices even when others don't want to hear them.
  • Henry Jenkins, whose research on the intersection of participatory culture and pop culture provide new insight into understanding civic participation in a digital age.

But perhaps the most inspirational are the stories that come from LA Facing History Partnership Schools each year around this time - individuals and groups whose upstanding make a concrete difference every day in the lives and future of our Southern California students and communities.

In my conversation with Henry Jenkins, he shared an idea I've been thinking about ever since - that of "civic imagination." He spoke of the importance of being able to imagine a future in order to be able to create it, and even more, being able to imagine yourself in the position to create civic change even when you currently don't have that access.

The students we celebrate as upstanders this year, have not only imagined a new future, they have taken concrete steps to make that future happen now. I consider it a silver lining in a difficult time that this celebration of upstanders can be so public this year.

In past years we have held this celebration in person with invitations primarily to our LA Partnership Schools. It has been glorious and inspirational. But this year, we've brought it online as an entire GALLERY of upstanders, more than we would be able to acknowledge on a single evening in person.  In addition to students, you'll see adults and school groups that have likewise found ways to take action to create the community they imagine for schools and students.

Dolores, Eric, and Henry all spoke of the importance of listening to others in order to build the social fabric that make a civic society. As voices across the country demand to be heard, I encourage all to listen to these voices - and actions - from individuals and groups who are already starting to create the communities of tomorrow.  

Celebrate Upstanders

Topics: Upstanders, Los Angeles, Upstander

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