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A Union of Citizens

Programs 117, 118 • 58 mins

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CDs available via special order.

Free Podcast Available
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This documentary includes our interview with John Lewis, remarkable civil rights leader and the “conscience of Congress.” Mr . Lewis died at age 80 on July 17, 2020. In a country founded of the people, by the people and for the people: What does it mean to be an actively engaged citizen? How can we stimulate more critical thinking and a more deliberative approach by the citizenry? Why do so many Americans feel alienated from our democratic process? These were questions to which John Lewis devoted his inspiring life of public service.

The generation that founded America in the late seventeen-hundreds felt burned by what they saw as governmental abuse by the British. Without representatives to hold accountable in elections and without a Bill of Rights, ordinary people were the ruled—not the rulers. As Mark Twain later observed: “Citizenship is what makes a republic—monarchies can get along without it.” Also heard: Frances Moore Lappe and John Bogle.

I love to quote William Hastie, the first black judge in this country at a federal level. He said, ‘Democracy is not being, it is becoming. It is easily lost, but never finally won.’ “

—Frances Moore Lappe, author of “Diet for a Small Planet” and “Democracy’s Edge”

We live in a country where we’re supposed to have freedom of the press and religious freedom, but I think to some degree, there’s a sense of fear in America today, that if you say the wrong thing, what some people will consider what is wrong, if you step out of line, if you dissent, whether you be an entertainer, that somehow and some way this government or the forces to be will come down on you.”

—Hon. John Lewis, member of U.S. Congress and civil rights activist

Today we have a much truer democracy, but a democracy where I think we’ve lost sight of a lot of the substance of what it requires to be a good citizen.”

—John Bogle, founder of Vanguard and former chair of the National Constitution Center

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