The founding legislation for the National Endowment for the Humanities states presciently that “democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens.” We recognize this as the foundation for reinvigorating our democracy. By recognizing this moment in our history, the nation has the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a reawakening of civic engagement by encouraging the participation of all residents. America 250 | CT is leading the state’s efforts to support diverse, inclusive, and impactful programs in collaboration with cultural, education, history, and arts organizations throughout the state.
Tell Inclusive Stories
The 250th serves as inspiration for CTH, its grantees, and the people of Connecticut to deal with and share stories that represent all of its people, past and present. For much of our history, the United States has excluded people—women, free and enslaved African Americans, Indigenous people, immigrants, people with disabilities, the poor, and many others—from full participation and representation in the nation’s political, economic, and cultural life. This commemoration is an opportunity to continue the nation’s reckoning with the past, both its glory and its missteps and flaws. By telling previously untold stories we will enable everyone to find a place in our nation’s narrative.
Power of Place
Connecticut is comprised of eight counties, 169 towns and cities, five recognized tribes, and countless communities with unique identities and contributions. The creation of a community-based structure will allow each of Connecticut’s towns and cities to define their own programs and ideas about how they can engage their citizens. The building of an understanding of our American past will begin in the public spaces dedicated to learning: libraries, community centers, local museums, and historic sites. CTH will ensure the alignment between Connecticut’s 250th activities and those of the greater region and nation, building relevance and aligning the state with other areas.
To renew public engagement with history, the public must be invited to participate in the process of doing history. CTH will work with organizations in the cultural sector to drive collaborative and innovative approaches to celebrating the nation’s 250th. Using avenues such as the digital humanities, cross-sector convenings, and engagement with social studies teachers, we will build a collaborative environment and provide access for all state residents to cultural experiences. Inviting audiences to engage with the historical method can help them become more comfortable with the ambiguous, contested, and always-evolving nature of history. The commission’s work will focus on the role of Connecticut, its people, sites, and historic context of the time. It can boost tourism in the state by amplifying the story at historic sites, trails, and buildings, and by constructing programs around notable events.
For the Common Good
As we reckon with what the nation’s 250th means in Connecticut, we will encourage civic engagement to continue to build our communities, state, and nation using the democratic ideals outlined in our founding documents. The 250th anniversary offers an opportunity to reconsider the origins of our government, democratic institutions, and broader civic life, and a chance to reflect on the ways we have changed them over time. Discussions about our democracy and civic intuitions can help strengthen understanding, inspire action, and reveal ways that all of us can participate in and shape our democracy.