PRESS RELEASE: February 8, 2020
FROM: Florida Humanities

Keith Simmons, Communications Director
Phone: (727) 873-2011 | Cell: (813) 376-0182
Email: [email protected]

August 2020 to February 2021

Voices and Votes is based on a major exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. This Museum on Main Street adaptation includes many of the same dynamic features: historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games and additional footage, photos, and information; and objects that tell a thousand stories like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.

Exhibition Content

Our democracy demands action, reaction, vision, and revision as we continue to question how to form “a more perfect union.” How do you participate as a citizen? From the revolution and suffrage to civil rights and casting ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever-evolving story—the story of our American democracy. The exhibition explores historic events and poses questions for today in the following sections:

The Great Leap: Examine the context and main controversies behind America’s democratic system. Learn the stories of our famous founders and those who remain mostly unknown. What were the principles and events that inspired the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Just how revolutionary was our new democracy led by the people? And who were “the people?”

Voices and Votes Smithsonian Exhibit
Voices and Votes Smithsonian Exhibit

A Vote, A Voice: We have a diverse body of voters today, but not every American has always had the right to vote. The fight for fair representation, suffrage, and a voice at the polls has meant struggle and changes to law ever since our founding. Learn about these struggles, how voting was expanded, and continued challenges to getting the vote.

The Machinery of Democracy: We participate in the political system through state and national parties, nomination conventions, and stomping for our candidate of choice. Learn about this machinery of democracy, how it calls us to be involved, but can also control how we get information about candidates and issues.

Beyond the Ballot: Americans fight against injustice. Men and women of every ethnicity, class, and state have shared in the revolutionary spirit of rising up and speaking out. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees this right to peaceably assemble and petition the government. See the different places and different motivations of diverse Americans to petition for their interests and concerns.

Creating Citizens: Who are “We the People?” What is the meaning of citizenship? Ever since the creation of the Constitution, Americans continue to interpret, expand, and shape the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen. Explore how those views of rights and responsibilities have shaped our national identity and our complex national story.

American Experiments: Go beyond the exhibition with “American Experiments,” a collection of activities designed to engage visitors inside the museum as well as students in the classroom. Thought‐provoking and fun, “American Experiments” includes activities that will tie in themes from the exhibition. A “Head‐to‐Head” challenge asks visitors to select their choice for the American who changed the nation the most or the most “American” food. Leave your opinion of “I believe good citizens should…” with a “My Fellow Citizens” photo opportunity. Finally, see where you stand in comparison to others in a voting game posing such questions as “Should it be mandatory to vote?” and would you “join a protest even if most people I know disagreed with my viewpoint.” “American Experiments” is just one example of the many rich programming opportunities American Democracy opens for communities.

Tour Schedule

Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Library, Sarasota, FL

Aug 15 – Oct 10, 2020
Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Library

Sarasota, FL

Polk County History Center, Bartow, FL

Oct 17 – Dec 12, 2020
Polk County History Center

Bartow, FL

Haitian Heritage Museum, Miami, FL

Dec 19, 2020 – Feb 6, 2021
Haitian Heritage Museum

Miami, FL

Florida Historic Capitol, Tallahassee, FL

Feb 13 – Mar 27, 2021
Florida Historic Capitol

Tallahassee, FL

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is Sponsored By:

The Voices & Votes: Democracy in America exhibit and related programming are brought to you by Florida Humanities and the Smithsonian Institution.

We would also like to thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.”