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Become America by Eric Liu
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Become America

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Become America by Eric Liu
Hardcover $24.95
May 14, 2019 | ISBN 9781632172570

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“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

“[This] collection is like a penetrating time-lapse movie of the American mind…[Liu’s] great contribution is to show how to mix conviction on racial matters with humility and gentleness. Moreover, he is always pushing toward an American creed that moves beyond both the white monoculture and the fracturing multiculturalism. He is always pushing toward a national story large enough to contain all the hybrid voices.”
—David Brooks, The New York Times

“The conceptually most important part of Liu’s new book [Become America] is its forthright argument that active citizenship should be a civic religion…Many of the sermons [within] address specifics of how to convert a hazy concern about civic engagement to feasible to-do goals for the next day or week or year.”
—The Atlantic

“This inspirational guide will speak to readers looking for encouragement and a path to meaningful civic engagement.” 
—Publishers Weekly

“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 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  

“This collection of essays exhorts Americans to love the nation they have by becoming the nation they want.”
—The Washington Post

“There is a fundamental decency at the core of the sermons, an impulse to call us to our best selves, both individually and collectively.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books

“[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


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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