Editor's note: Annabel is one of the producers of Story of America. This is an auto-biographical story about how she became committed to being an active citizen.
This is the oath that I took when I became an American citizen in June, 1991, in Boston:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United
We had a simple question when Eric Byler and I began our journey around the country with Story of America: Why have we become so divided as a nation and how can we become more united?
As I watched the video of our interview with James Morgan of Bakersville, NC, a mining town in the Appalachian Mountains, I finally recognized what really propelled this journey. It wasn't some academic answer to my question; it was something deeply personal.Read more
Today a friend in the justice movement texted me these words: "Happy New Year. I'm depressed." In trying to offer some advice, I summarized the remarks quoted below, which had made me feel better about life.
As you know, Story of America aims to create greater understanding and civil engagement on divisive issues.
One of our goals for 2015 is to create better dialogue between communities and law enforcement. We were able to contribute to the dialogue in Prince William County through our critically acclaimed documentary project 9500 Liberty, the youtube series and the feature film. This is the trailer for the film.
Federal complaint filed after wave of anti-immigrant sentiment kills housing deal in Lawrenceville, VA
A federal complaint has been filed by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) citing events that I witnessed and documented for Story of America. On June 20, 2014, I traveled to Lawrenceville, Virginia to film an emergency town hall meeting about the possibility of putting an Unaccompanied Alien Children’s (UAC) program on the campus of the recently closed St. Paul's College.
5 Hour Wait to Vote in Urban Centers: 2016's most cynical election strategy coming to Wisconsin, North Carolina, & Ohio
This video shot on election day 2012 by Eric Byler, Bobby Wangerman, Annabel Park, and Michael Levin is the best documentation so far of the unfairness of long lines at the polls in urban centers. Recently, swing states like Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have implemented policies designed to engineer long lines at the polls in urban centers.
Augustine Carter, an 85-year-old voter in Richmond, tells her story of the trouble she went through to vote in 2012. Born in 1928, she never had a birth certificate and she never got a driver's license because she decided years ago that driving wasn't for her. Her baptism certificate was sufficient for all identification purposes until the 2012 election. She had to go through a Kafkaesque bureaucracy including being told by someone at the Motor Vehicle Administration that she couldn't prove that she was not a terrorist.Read more
Each time there has been a demographic shift in America that threatens the existing balance of power, new election laws have appeared to try to insulate the electorate from the emerging population.
The most obvious demographic shift threatening the balance of power was emancipation. With it came the right to vote for African American men, which was decisive in Southern states where former slaves far outnumbered whites. This was considered unacceptable, and, starting in 1874, a wave of political violence and terrorism (until recently, celebrated as heroic terrorism) overthrew democratically elected governments and rigged elections in order to install voting restrictions and other practices which barred African Americans from voting in the South for 80 years.
Since I began my journey advocating for civil and informed dialogue, many people have made dismissive comments about the idea of dialogue and deliberation. I want to state again why dialogue is so important.
First of all, dialogue is always necessary for peacefully resolving any conflict.
For most of 2010 through 2012, I was trying to figure out answers to these questions: Why are the American people so divided, and hostile to one another? How will we meet the many challenges we face when there is conflict among the people and gridlock in Washington?