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“Why It Matters”: Nevada Humanities launches civic engagement initiative


Nevada Humanities will spend the first months of 2021 continuing a community dialogue around civic engagement with a timely effort that follows months of protests, demonstrations and turn-out-the-vote initiatives across the state and the nation.

The “Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation” initiative recently earned a $50,000 grant by The Federation of State Humanities Councils and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue programming that includes a mix of online conversations, videos and essays that are free to access. Programs began in October 2020.

Upcoming programming is intended to be collaborative and accessible, according to a statement from Nevada Humanities, and “will explore the history of civic and electoral engagement in Nevada, the state legislative system, voting access in tribal communities, new voters, and communities working to re-enfranchised formerly incarcerated people to vote, among other related topics.”

“Civic participation has been on all of our minds this year, not only with record-breaking voter turnout in the 2020 President election, but unprecedented public protests and demonstrations in a renewed call for social justice in the United States,” said Christina Barr, Executive Director of Nevada Humanities. “With a longstanding commitment to bringing people together to share ideas and perspectives, Nevada Humanities is honored to be hosting conversations about voting rights and the history of voting in Nevada.”

Programs launched through this initiative will include “Nevada Voices: The First Time I Voted,” an online series of videos and essays from Nevadans reflecting on the first time they cast their vote in an election.

Online conversation programs will continue through April and include discussion around the topics of voting, electoral participation, and civic engagement, featuring academics, journalists, and community leaders working in the field.

The next online conversation program is “Why It Matters: The Past, Present, and Future of Voting in the United States,” and is the first of a four-part series. It’ll be held virtually on Zoom at 4 p.m. Jan. 14, 2021, and features journalist Erin Geiger Smith and Nevada historian Michael Green. “This discussion highlights the history of democracy and how voting rights have expanded over time, both here in Nevada and across the nation,” the event’s description noted. Register for this event at nevadahumanities.org.

Other upcoming events in the Why It Matters series include a conversation with Nevada elected officials on how they came to politics, Native American voting rights in Nevada, and re-enfranchised voters in Nevada. Visit nevadahumanities.org for more information.

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