American Creed

Sunday, August 18, 2019 -
1:30pm to 3:00pm
Chester County Library

A Documentary Film with David M. Kennedy & Condoleezza Rice

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy come together from remarkably different backgrounds, life experiences, and points of view to explore the idea of a unifying American creed. Their spirited inquiry frames the stories of a range of citizen-activists striving to realize their own visions of America’s promise across deep divides. Facilitated community conversations, classroom screenings and storytelling labs are being held in cities and towns across the country, inviting the American public to engage with the idea of a unifying national identity based on shared ideas and ideals.

The American Creed borrows its title from a phrase in Nobel Prize-winning economist Gunnar Myrdal’s landmark study of American attitudes and beliefs during the Great Depression. Myrdal wrote: “Americans of all national origins, classes, regions, creeds, and colors, have something in common: a social ethos, a political creed. It is difficult to avoid the judgment that this ‘American Creed’ is the cement in the structure of this great and disparate nation.” Myrdal defined that creed as an abiding sense that every individual, regardless of circumstances, deserves fairness and the opportunity to realize unlimited potential. He called the gap between that creed and the reality of American life "an American dilemma."

This program is based on the premise that in every generation, a re-commitment to the realization of the American creed is urgently needed. Today, Americans find themselves caught up in an increasingly divisive political culture. Yet, wherever one stands, there is an implicit if not always expressed article of faith that the American Creed remains foundational to our identity, history and culture. Every generation of Americans must wrestle with what it means to have an American national creed, understand the ideals embodied within it and commit to expressing those ideals in their lives as citizens. Hope is that the stories in American Creed — which speak to our dilemmas, yet offer hope that our shared ideals can prove more powerful than our differences — will engage viewers in a bold conversation about what it will take to uphold American democracy.

To register for this program, please visit our online event calendar.