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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.

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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.

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juliana_deomstration_at _courthouse"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.

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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. And he urges, correctly, our responsibility to end it. 


david_swanson_portrait17 Years of Getting Afghanistan Completely Wrong

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Robert Koehler 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.
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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. We’ve got to cancel congressional support for Trump.

That seems not an unworthy goal.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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Robert Shetterly was invited to Bozeman, Montana for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2015.

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