What does it mean to be an American?
What holds us together in turbulent times?
In our fractured society, the ideals, values and ethos that bind us as Americans enable us to overcome the challenges we face in our communities, our nation and our world.
On Thursday, April 5, 2018 over 100 high school students and community members gathered at the Idea Center to join a nationwide conversation, exploring the underlying diversity that drives our ever-developing culture in our quest to develop an American Creed. These students and community members were joined by American Creed cast members Terrence Davenport and Tegan Griffith to discuss what it means to be an American in 2018.
To view the documentary American Creed in its entirety, click here.
Terrence Davenport was raised in the economically struggling Arkansas Delta. He did well in school, attending the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he studied web design and started a web development business. He moved back to his hometown of Dumas (pop. 2,500) in 2010 to help his family after his mother was diagnosed with cancer and his grandmother was evicted from the sharecropper’s shack she had lived in most of her life. Davenport stayed in Dumas and became a social entrepreneur, coaching low-income people and connecting them to work. “There’s ingenuity, determination and grit in our community,” Davenport says, “and if we can get even a small toehold on the economic ladder, we have a fighting chance.”
Sergeant Tegan Griffith, from the rural town of Wittenberg, Wisconsin, joined the Marine Corps at 21 in search of economic and educational opportunity, and a meaningful, patriotic life. Her service offered Griffith a valuable new perspective on what values are worth defending – those embedded in her vision of the American creed. After serving in Iraq, she returned to Wisconsin’s capital, where she works tirelessly to help fellow vets build a support network to advocate for themselves and others. As a resident of Madison, she regularly encounters loud and passionate protesters, understanding that defending their right to free speech is “part of the fabric of my uniform.” Now a leader of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Griffith continues to fight for freedom and community.
This community conversation was produced in partnership:
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy come together from remarkably different backgrounds, life experiences and points of view to explore the idea of a unifying American creed. Their spirited inquiry frames the stories of a range of citizen-activists striving to realize their own visions of America’s promise across deep divides.
American Creed launched as a nationally televised PBS Special, and as a feature documentary on PBS.org, on February 27, 2018. The date marked the beginning of a robust public engagement campaign including community conversations, classroom activities and local storytelling in cities and towns across the country—all designed to foster a bold national conversation about American ideals and identity.