Premieres Tuesday, February 27 at 9 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listings)
What does it mean to be American? What holds us together in turbulent times? In the documentary film AMERICAN CREED, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy come together from different backgrounds and points of view to investigate the idea of a unifying American creed. How, ask Rice and Kennedy, have American ideals of freedom, fairness, equality, and opportunity been shaped? How are they interpreted today? Rice and Kennedy’s spirited inquiry frames the stories of citizen-activists striving to realize their own visions of America’s promise. “I hear more and more people say, ‘we’re coming apart, we’re not civil to one another, our institutions are falling apart’,” says Rice. “In times like this,” adds Kennedy, “we need stories that remind us of the ideals that hold us together.”
The stories in AMERICAN CREED are told from the points of view of unlikely activists who creatively bridge cultural, economic and/or political divides. In his hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, baseball manager Joe Maddon brings new immigrants and long-time residents together after a controversial local election. In Oklahoma, Lindbergh Elementary School Principal Deidre Prevett, a dual citizen of Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the US, fights for the struggling children and transient families of many different ethnicities who pass through her hometown of East Tulsa. Acclaimed novelist Junot Diaz, from urban New Jersey, and Marine Sgt. Tegan Griffith, from rural Wisconsin, work in very different spheres to achieve “the dream of an America where we can be on each other’s side.” Based in Seattle, Eric Liu brings community organizers together across ideological divides. By “being open and listening,” the founders of the grassroots organizations MoveOn.org and the Tea Party Patriots unexpectedly find common ground. In the Arkansas Delta, where mechanization threatens agricultural jobs, entrepreneurs Leila Janah and Terrence Davenport start an innovative technology company based on what they see as America’s promise of equal opportunity for all.
Condoleezza Rice / Courtesy of Citizen Films David M. Kennedy ' Courtesy of Citizen Films
Adding depth and context as each story builds on the next, Rice and Kennedy lead a moving discussion of the question at the heart of this film – what does it mean to be American today? – with a group of first-generation college students at Stanford University, where Rice teaches political science and Kennedy teaches history. These students find themselves on an uncertain pathway to full participation in American life; their commentary is insightful and affecting, in surprising ways.