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Become America

Best Seller
Become America by Eric Liu
Hardcover
May 14, 2019 | 320 Pages
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  • Hardcover $24.95

    May 14, 2019 | 320 Pages

  • Ebook $11.99

    May 14, 2019

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Product Details

Praise

A New York Times Book Review New and Noteworthy Book

“With great generosity and hope, Become America calls forward our history to point to our expansive potential as civic beings. This is a work of tremendous grace, love, and reach as it crosses boundaries to illuminate our shared humanity.”
—Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen: An American Lyric

“Eric Liu writes with deep patriotism and bracing candor about history and our own hearts. This powerful book will remind Americans how to live like citizens capable of keeping a republic. It’s a very needed book for our times and an inspirational one as well.”
—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

“Eric Liu has a rare gift for decoding the texts and subtexts of our politics and history. Become America is a wise, deep, and beautifully written look at the American civic soul.”
—Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard professor and host of Finding Your Roots on PBS  

“America has never needed its civic creed more than now: a set of texts, myths, and memories that call us to our highest selves even as they reveal the gaps between aspirations and realities. Become America is a powerful call to both introspection and action and a wise set of meditations reflecting the full diversity of what America can be. Read it and pass it on!”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America

“At a time of political unrest, one group is hoping to rekindle people’s faith in the power they hold as ordinary citizens.”
HuffingtonPost

“[T]here has been, across the country, a disinvestment in civic education, which is why [Eric] Liu started Citizen University, a program that travels the country teaching people of all ages the lost art of civics.”
CBS Sunday Morning

Author Q&A

MORE ABOUT ERIC LIU, CITIZEN UNIVERSITY, AND CIVIC SATURDAYS

Citizen University is a national organization based in Seattle, Washington, with the goal of building a culture of powerful and responsible citizenship across the country. Founded in 2013, the organization began with a single national conference and has now expanded to include a wide variety of programs, including Civic Saturdays. The first Civic Saturday gatherings took place in Seattle in 2016, and the program has since been replicated in over 20 cities (and counting) around the United States.

Q: Civic Saturdays feature sermons, singing in chorus, and other activities that remind one of being in church. Why did you choose a religious framework for these secular gatherings?
A: Civic Saturdays are designed to be analogous to a faith gathering, and though they are not religious events, they are about a shared belief. A belief in the power of citizens, and of what we like to think of as American civic religion—the creed of liberty, equality, and self-government that truly unites us.  We gather at Civic Saturdays to reflect on—and rededicate ourselves—to that American creed and to the practice of being an active member of civic life. Civic Saturdays
are not just about learning how to be civically engaged. Our goal is to spread a belief. A belief that a strong democracy depends on strong citizens—that we all have the power to make change in civic life, and the responsibility to try.

Q: Civic Saturdays and your civic sermons often focus on the ideals of American citizenship. What does it mean to be a good citizen?
A: One of the core tenets of our work is that Power + Character = Citizenship. And when we say citizen, we aren’t talking about documentation status. We are talking about being an active, contributing member of civic life. And in that sense, we believe everyone can practice good citizenship by understanding the systems, skills, and tools of power in the civic arena and by acting with the idea that we’re all better off when we’re all better off. Good citizenship requires both power and character.

Q: In this moment, our country feels deeply polarized, with political tensions running high. How do Civic Saturdays help?
A: We know that many people across the country are feeling disconnected, isolated, or cynical about the current state of civic life. Our focus with Civic Saturdays is to build a shared civic purpose—an understanding that we are bound together by the American ideals of liberty, justice, and equality, and that it is our collective responsibility to participate and show up in civic life.
Activating civic power requires practice and intention, practice that can take place by gathering with people, face-to-face, to reflect on and reckon with our current civic moment and remind ourselves how we want to show up for our country—and for each other. We challenge people to activate their empathy and unpack the emotional underpinnings of their individual political stances. By rooting these gatherings in community and values, we can create nodes of powerful citizenship that activate civic power across the country, helping to mend the fabric of our civic life one gathering at a time.

Q: How do you envision Civic Saturdays growing or evolving?
A: We started our Civic Seminary program in 2018 and have begun teaching people from all over the country to create Civic Saturdays in their own communities. Since our inaugural Civic Seminary cohort last January, interest in the program has only grown. Our Civic Seminary program will double in 2019, and we will be training close to 50 leaders who will bring Civic Saturdays back to their towns. Our goal? To spread the belief I talked about above: to help people feel connected to the process of democratic participation, to take responsibility for the health of their communities and their country, to be empowered to activate and engage, and to root themselves in the values that unite us all.

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