The Smithsonian Comes to Town

The following guest column by Gulf Coast President|CEO Mark Pritchett appeared in the August 15 edition of SRQ Daily:

Voices and Votes Smithsonian Exhibit

If you are bored with your daily COVID-19 routine or your children need to get out from behind their computers and experience something you usually can see only in large cities, then I’ve got something that will enrich your lives during this interesting political season.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, a Smithsonian Institution traveling, interactive exhibit, has opened a two-month installation at the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library. This exhibition is truly nonpartisan and tells the history of voting and democracy from our Founding Fathers to the infamous Florida 2000 election to protests you see today.

Sarasota was selected as the first of four Florida communities to host the Smithsonian exhibition. Why Sarasota as the first community? Florida Humanities leader Steve Seibert called my office at Gulf Coast Community Foundation last summer, and the deal was sealed within the first minute of our conversation. 

Voices and Votes explores the story of America’s self-governing system. Based on a major ongoing exhibition at the National Museum of American History, it also brings national ideas and ideals to Main Street, so to speak, so we can consider how they are reflected in our own local stories.

The substance of this exhibit is relevant and fascinating. Topics include the context and controversies of our democratic system’s creation. The (ongoing) struggle to ensure every American has a voice at the polls. And the pursuit of justice beyond the ballot, through means like our First Amendment right to petition our government. It truly is an ever-evolving story.

Read the rest of Mark's column in SRQ Daily


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