Welcoming Smithsonian to History Club

Announcing the "Civic Season," a new national history project

Welcoming Smithsonian to History Club

History Club is partnering with the Smithsonian’s “Made By Us” project to launch a new initiative, the Civic Season.

The “Holiday Season” falls between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We’re proposing that between June 19th (Juneteenth) and July 4th, America celebrates a “Civic Season.”

We envision a “Civic Season” wherein Americans from all backgrounds and heritages commit to civic engagement and strengthening democracy.

It’s a new idea and the folks from Smithsonian, Civics Unplugged and other partners need our help. What activities should be part of an American “Civic Season”? Ideas could include:

  • Registering people to vote

  • Volunteering with a local nonprofit

  • Getting involved with your local veterans’ service organization

  • Visiting a local museum or historical society

  • Hosting a book club to discuss a book related to American history or civics

  • Contributing to a charity dedicated to freedom and democracy

  • + Other ideas to be posted on TheCivicSeason.com.

History Club will be hosting two “Civic Season” conversations on June 3 and June 17 with members of the Made By Us and Civics Unplugged teams:

  • Event #1 - We want to hear from you — What would a “Civic Season” look like? What activities should be involved? How can we engage all Americans from diverse backgrounds, especially younger Americans? (June 3 @ 10PM ET | RSVP).

  • Event #2 - A “Civic Season” conversation on freedom and democracy, and how the histories of Juneteenth and July 4th can inform how we think about both (June 17 @ 10PM ET | RSVP).

Mark your calendars and join us in welcoming Made By Us and Civics Unplugged to History Club in June!

Recap: the murder of Vincent Chin

No recording of this week’s room on the murder of Vincent Chin, but here are a few topics that came up during the 2-hour conversation:

  • Vincent Chin was murdered in 1982 by two white autoworkers angered at Japanese competition with the Detroit auto industry. We spoke about the economic and geopolitical climate in the late 1970s and 1980s that incited such violence.

  • Chin was not the first Asian American assault to provoke a public outcry. In 1975, Peter Yew was beaten and arrested by police officers in New York City as he protested their detainment of another individual. Mass demonstrations by 15,000 Asian Americans and others occurred in response.

  • The Asian American activism of the late 1960s and 1970s had roots in the Civil Rights movement, feminist movement, gay rights movement and the anti-war movement. The activism that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s in response to the Chin murder directed its energy more towards achieving political representation, advocacy and policy. Today’s activism is more centered around identity politics and countering discrimination.

  • The Vincent Chin murder endures as a symbol for Asian Americans, particularly in light of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 6,600 hate crimes against Asian Americans have been documented between March 2020 and March 2021.

Special thanks to civil rights attorney Aryani Ong for spending the evening with us.

This week’s History Club is TBD

History Club is scheduled for May 27 (the topic is Jewish American soldiers in WWII, in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.) However, I’m getting shot #2 this week, so we’ll see how things go. If I’m out of commission on Thursday, I’ll write a blog post instead.

Have a terrific week.