Blog

  • Some Reflections on the Portrait Exhibit at Syracuse University

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    Before coming to Syracuse University for the opening of the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait exhibit, a number of people asked me what it was going to feel like to see all the portraits at once. In retrospect, this question seems like asking a thirteen year old how it will feel to be married, or a medical student how it will feel to save a life.
  • Accountability, History, Identity & the Liberty Medal

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    Recently the Texas board of education decided to remove slavery from its school textbooks. When a story isn't told, or its truth is altered, it slips from memory, slips from the accumulated identity people internalize by knowing their common history. As strong as the desire is for all of us to deny the worst we do, if we eradicate the worst, we have no idea who we are. All the social facts, customs, conditions, injustices, ramifications still deriving from that past are now free-floating, causeless.
  • On the Supreme Court Putting a Stay on Juliana v. U.S.

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    "Government actions knowingly and willfully created the climate crisis. From this crisis young and future generations face increasing dangers. As courageous, creative change-makers we have the opportunity and moral authority to change the social, political, and economic structures that cause injustice and climate chaos. Youth are standing up for our fundamental right to inherit a stable and survivable planet.
  • 17 Years of Getting Afghanistan Completely Wrong

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    While many of us forget, David Swanson urges us to remember. And to do something about it. Swanson reminds us that the war in Afghanistan drags on, even as Americans ignore its ongoing tragedies.
  • The Accusation That Wouldn't Go Away

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    RobertKoehler from Chicago is one of my favorite observers of our complicated culture. What I like so much about him is his clear-eyed compassion for all people and honest assessment of hypocrisy when we fail to live up to our professed ideals. I know of no one who writes more eloquently and economically about social justice - particularly our many varieties of racism, about the insidiousness of militarism, about wealth disparity, and now particularly about the crisis of climate change.
  • Voting for the Lesser of Evils

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    Since I've been old enough to vote -- 50 years now -- I've felt, except maybe once or twice, that I was voting for the lesser of evils.That problem was acute in the run up to the 2016 election, and already I'm hearing people say about the 2018 midterm: no matter who it is, if it's Democrat, you've got to vote for it.
  • The Museum of Liberation

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    This morning I was listening to a podcast by Bryan Stevenson, a recent AWTT portrait. Many of you know that he and his organization, the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, recently opened a new museum which tells two stories. One part tells the story of the ongoing systemic transformations of racism in this country, from Slavery to Mass Incarceration.
  • The Million Women’s March January 21, 2017

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    What happened?This was not a protest. It was a clarification. A realignment.It was not an aggrieved victim struggling to have her lonely voice heard as she implores power to hear truth.It was power speaking to power. Legitimate power speaking to illegitimate power. It was a global, universal tweet speaking to an arrogant twit.The phoenix shaking off the ashes.It was liberation speaking to domination. Diversity speaking to white patriarchy.The heart of freedom speaking to the heel of oppression.
  • A Public Conversation in Asheville, NC with Robert Shetterly and Rev. Dr. William Barber II

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    On September 20, 2015, Robert Shetterly and Rev. Dr. William Barber II participated in a public conversation about courage, activism, and social justice. Watch the videos here.
  • Rob's Report From Bozeman

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    Robert Shetterly was invited to Bozeman, Montana for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2015.
  • Commercializing The Christmas Truce: Spinning Hay into Dollars

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    Robert Shetterly reflects on the meaning of the Christmas Truce and a recent advertisement by Sainsbury's chocolate to commercialize the moment.
  • Torture: A modest (satirical) proposal

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    Robert Shetterly writes a satire about the morality of torture for Super Bowl Sunday.
  • A Symphony of Courageous Action

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    Connie Carter, the Director of Education Programming for AWTT, thinks about the Star Spangled Banner and the patriotism of activism.
  • The Myth of Accountability and the Death of Michael Brown

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    Robert Shetterly reflects on Michael Brown, Ferguson, Darren Wilson and a culture that avoids accountability in the United States.
  • Nature's Common Core: Why Rachel Carson should be taught in schools

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    Robert Shetterly writes about the relevance of Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, more than 50 years after it was published and urges us to teach that all economies must adhere to nature's laws.
  • Contemplating Logic

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    When I play with my grandson, we suspend the logic of reality. Toy dump trucks fly, giraffes talk with polar bears, gravity is a joke, a paper airplane zigzags twenty feet & has circumnavigated the Earth, an 18” high wobbly block tower is the Empire State Building. Mortality is a hiccup. Such is the logic of play, of silliness.
  • A Sigh Heard Round the World

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    As the violence in Iraq escalates in 2014, Robert Shetterly remembers how the Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) project started and the importance of community in the struggle for justice.
  • Wailing At the Wall: On returning from a trip to Palestine

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    In April 2014, Robert Shetterly and AWTT board member, Dud Hendrick, accompanied Lily Yeh and Barefoot Artists to Palestine. Robert Shetterly reflects on the powerful image of the wall separating the Palestinians and the Israelis.
  • Education, Shirley Chisholm, a Postage Stamp, Hope and AWTT

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    Here's a little tale about public education, public policy, and a postage stamp. In January of this year, these three seemed to converge, but in truth, they passed like trains in the night.Several years ago a designer who works with the US Post Office wrote to me about the possibility of using my AWTT portrait of Shirley Chisholm for a stamp in the Black Heritage series. I was delighted, but as time passed and no more mention was made, I forgot about it.
  • Bill Bigelow: An Earth Day Message - Take Heart from the Abolition Movement

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    On this Earth Day, those of us fighting for climate justice and an end to the world's fossil fuel domination should take heart from the struggle against slavery.Imagine for a moment that it is 1858 and you are an abolitionist. Talk about discouragement: The previous year, in itsDred Scottdecision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that no black person—whether enslaved or free—was entitled to become a U.S. citizen. Chief Justice Roger B.
  • The Backward Dancing Man

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    In the early 1970s when I was teaching myself how to draw and hoping, in the process, to develop an artful voice, I was also reading the great anthropologist, philosopher, poet, paleontologist, and writer Loren Eiseley.
  • Exuberant Whales and Frantic Turtles

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    Robert Shetterly considers the exuberance of playful whales and the survival of baby sea turtles.
  • What Would Clyde Do? Why I Painted Clyde Kennard

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    Chances are, you haven't heard ofClyde Kennard, an unsung hero and martyr of the Civil Rights Movement, a man of great wisdom, compassion, gentleness, and determined courage. Until a few months ago, I hadn't either. Then a colleague told me a remarkable story about a man set on showing southern Mississippi white people that their culture would be better for them if they integrated.
  • What You Should Know by Russell Libby, a review

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    Robert Shetterly reviews Russell Libby's new, posthumously published book of poetry, What You Should Know: A Field Guide to Three Sisters Farm.
  • This App Is So Cool!

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    The entire function of art -- at whatever level of ability -- is to enable a person to discover a personal voice, an idiosyncratic way of seeing, thinking, feeling, reacting, being that could only come from you.
  • AWTT Focusing on Narrative Activism

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    It is the mission of Americans Who Tell the Truth to encourage all of us to discover true stories, stories that help us engage in the life and health of our communities, stories that align our ideals with our actions.
  • David Swanson: "War in Syria will not be won"

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    David Swanson takes apart the public rationale for war with Syria: "The debate over chemical weapons, itself, is framed by the lie that a law against chemical weapons can be enforced by one nation attacking another."
  • Peter Ludlow on Whistleblowing and Hacktivism

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    Read Peter Ludlow's thoughtful exploration of the morality of the new generation of leakers, whistleblowers, and hacktivists. The post, titled "The Banality of Systemic Evil" was published in The New York Times on September 15, 2013.Writes Ludlow, "Clearly, there is a moral principle at work in the actions of the leakers, whistle-blowers and hacktivists and those who support them.
  • Seeking the Balance: Individual vs. Community

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    The individual has a responsibility to think of and care about community. This is no small task and it belongs to all of us – parents, teachers, community members. How will you make this idea come alive in your life?
  • John Queally's Interview with Robert Shetterly

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    In an interview with Common Dreams, Robert Shetterly says that he began painting the portrait of Edward Snowden almost immediately after seeing the first interview Snowden gave to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.
  • Daily Show's Jessica Williams Frisks White Collar Crime

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    Frisky Business - Jessica Williams Reporting live from "business Harlem," Jessica Williams reveals that white-collar crime is disproportionately committed by people who fit a certain profile.
  • Rob Shetterly Discusses the Power of Art with Nancy Harris Frohlich

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    Robert Shetterly discusses the power of art with Nancy Harris Frohlich.
  • Media Perspectives on Bradley Manning

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    A few media perspectives on Bradley Manning, from Glenn Greenwald to David Carr.
  • Meditations While Painting Edward Snowden

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    The day after I read & watched the video of Glenn Greenwald's interview with Edward Snowden in a hotel room in Hong Kong, I began to paint Snowden's portrait for the Americans Who Tell the Truth project.
  • Bill Bigelow on How Textbooks Continue to Keep the Pentagon Papers a Secret

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    Bill Bigelow teaches students a moment that might have been, when the U.S. had a chance to support a unified, independent Vietnam and the importance of Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers.
  • Edward Snowden: The Asymmetry of Courage

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    Edward Snowden’s courage is like a lever the end of which he shoved under the NSA’s enormous dead weight. Whether the weight moves depends on how many of us grab on. Asymmetry can move mountains.
  • Norman Solomon on Bradley Manning and Who "The Enemy" Really Is

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    Norman Solomon, founder of Rootsaction.org and the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, uses two questions posed by The New Yorker writer Amy Davidson as prompts for this insightful essay, "Bradley Manning is Guilty of 'Aiding the Enemy'-- If the Enemy is Democracy."On her blog, Davidson asked the following:Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American governmentIn that case, who is aiding the enemy -- the wh
  • The Militarization of North American Life

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    Bruce Gagnon delivered this speech, "The Militarization of North American Life", at the Mauna Nui 2013 Teach-In conference held in Berkeley, California from May 31 to June 2, 2013.I live in Bath, Maine where Navy Aegis destroyers are built. These ships are outfitted with so-called "missile defense" systems that the Pentagon is today using to help surround Russia and China.
  • Gleen Greenwald on Bradley Manning, SF Gay Pride, and Political Values

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    Glenn Greenwald's essay is particularly interesting in the light of the Salman Rushdie Op-Ed that we posted yesterday, in which he pointed out how we prioritize physical courage over moral courage.Read Glenn Greenwald's whole piece at Common Dreams.Here are the first two paragraphs of Greenwald's essay.News reportsyesterday indicatedthatBradley Manning, widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration
  • Salman Rushdie on Moral Courage

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    In an Op-Ed in The New York Times, Salman Rushdie writes, " We find it easier, in these confused times, to admire physical bravery than moral courage -- the courage of the life of the mind, or of public figures."Mr. Rushdie goes on to assert that, "Political courage, nowadays, is almost always ambiguous.
  • The Rules dot Org Breaks Down the Global Wealth Gap

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    Get this: The richest 300 people in the world have more wealth than 3 billion poor people around the world. Therules.org suggests we change the rules. But how?
  • David Swanson Interviews Rob Shetterly

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    Listen to David Swanson, host of "Talk Nation Radio" interview Rob Shetterly: Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio
  • David Swanson: Iraq War Among World´s Worst Events

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    Read David Swanson´s piece on why the Iraq War is among the world´s worst events. This page also includes more video and analysis from the March 18, 2013 event at Busboys and Poets, where Swanson´s AWTT portrait was unveiled. Speakers included Andy Shalal, Iraqi-American and Busboys and Poets Founder, Leah Bolger, former president of Veterans for Peace, Swanson, and Rob Shetterly, artist and founder of Americans Who Tell the Truth.
  • Zinn Education Project: Teaching the Iraq War

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    The Zinn Education Project, in conjunction with Rethinking School and Teaching for Change, has published an article by Bill Bigelow on "How Not To Teach the Iraq War."Writes Bigelow:In 2006, with U.S.
  • David Swanson Portrait Unveiling: Videos

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    March 18, 2003 Washington, D.C.: Watch Robert Shetterly describe the Americans Who Tell the Truth project at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC at the event at which David Swanson´s portrait was unveiled and that commemorated the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Question and Answer Period 1 Question and Answer Period 2
  • Students Managing Their Own Loans?

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    Everywhere I go now I hear tales of anguish, anger and fear from college students who are facing years of debt payments after they graduate. Like so many systems in our culture, invented with at least the partial aim of enhancing freedom and democracy, the student loan system has become a means of debt slavery and social engineering. Think of the early days of television and the hopes for its ability to educate, communicate and entertain.
  • When Security is Justice: Because the Bible Told Me So

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    We humans constantly are telling ourselves stories about moral and immoral behavior. Many of the most memorable -- if only because of repetition -- are from the Bible. From them we learn about moral courage and cowardice, about wisdom and folly, about when to obey and when to rebel. And, of course, most Bible stories tell us to believe in God. But God -- He/She/It -- is so many things at once: God is Love, God is Nature, God is Truth. How can I believe in all these things at the same time?
  • Thoughts on John Kiriakou whose Portrait will be Unveiled January 23, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

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    On January 25th, 2013 in Washington, D.C., former CIA agent John Kiriakou (see his portrait here) will be sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for revealing the name of an undercover CIA agent. On the eve of that sentencing, Americans Who Tell the Truth and the Government Accountability Project are unveiling his portrait (see details here) as the newest in the AWTT portrait series.
  • Kathleen Dean Moore from The Sun Magazine

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    One of the best interviews about Climate Change and how we should be responding to it is in the December 2012 issue of The Sun Magazine.
  • You Can Vote, But Can You Vote for Democracy?

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    Teachers may want to reproduce this conversation in their classrooms. Read Robert Shetterly´s full post on the conversation he had about what constitutes democracy at commondreams.org.
  • Across the Partisan Divide: A Curious Encounter with My Senator, Susan Collins

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    On the first leg of a trip last week to work at the Maxwell School for Citizenship at the University of Syracuse, I flew from Bangor, Maine, to Washington, D.C. Sitting across from me in aisle two was one of Maine's senators, Susan Collins, a woman of enormous power, seniority and prestige in the Republican Party and our government. How often, I thought, does one get the serendipitous opportunity to talk with a senator? But another passenger sat between us, and I could not engage her.
  • In Memory of Larry Gibson: 1946 - 2012

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    We present our creation myths to ourselves as though they describe a one time event. But what we are really saying, when we say God, or Raven, or Spider, or Whatevercreated the Universe, rested, and looked upon the creation well satisfied, was that he, she or it was pleased with re-creation.
  • Report from Louisville: August 28-30, 2012

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    For many years Americans Who Tell the Truth has had a special relationship with the city, the people and the schools of Louisville, Kentucky. The last week of August this year marked one of the highpoints.On August 30th, The Muhammad Ali Center opened an exhibit of AWTT portraits titled Muhammad Ali and the Civil Rights Movement. 42 portraits that portray our country's long struggle for civil rights are hung beautifully in this remarkable space.
  • Labor Day, 2012: Thank Goodness Labor is its Own Reward!

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    A couple of nights ago I had dinner with friends I have known for a long time. I think allof them -- an inner city teacher, an artist, a retired doctor --- would describe themselves as liberals.
  • Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts

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    It's true that the Americans Who Tell the Truth project has become all about education, but the primary education has been my own. In the past ten years I have learned more about our history, why our history is the way it is, and some of the people who have guided its evolution in order to be more in line with its own ideals than I had ever thought possible. Many of the people I've painted were totally unknown to me before I began the portrait series.
  • Our New Website

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    The New AWTT WebsiteToday, August 13, 2012, we launched our new Americans Who Tell the Truth website. It is the culmination of an 8 month process led by my son Aran Shetterly who is now the Executive Director of AWTT. Aran has technical skills far beyond anything I could imagine and an ability to coordinate disparate parts of this project that have given it a new shape. A great deal of credit also goes to our software designer Dima Ciubatii.
  • Painting Walt Whitman

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    I had pinned this credo (below) of Walt Whitman to my studio wall many years ago because it represented to me the essential democratic impulse, something I liked to keep in mind while painting.Overwhelmed by anger at the attitude and manner that our government adopted after 9/11, I wanted to honor Whitman's words by painting his portrait. It was an effort to invoke his ghost in order to define to myself what was honest, humane and necessary for the survival of us all.
  • First Blog Entry from the First Website, November, 2004

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    I heard Michael Parenti talking on Alternative Radio this morning on my communtiy station here in Maine ( WERU in Blue Hill).