We are eighteen students from Lowell High School, located in Lowell Massachusetts, working together with our teacher, Jessica Lander. During the 2018-2019 school year, we learned together with Ms. Lander in a course called the Seminar on American Diversity. Over the course of a semester, we set out to together define what we thought it meant to be American. We analyzed key laws and Supreme Court cases, studied famous movements and changemakers who fought for social justice, and also looked at our own personal histories and worked to set them within the larger framework of American history.
We wrote and edited two books of personal stories. Each of us shared a story of self that we thought helped to define and answer the question: What does it mean to be American? We published our stories in two books, We Are America and We Are America Too, recorded our stories, and put them up on a website we created. We wanted this project to help start a local conversation on identity and belonging.
We believe that this conversation is critical now and that we — young people who are the future of America — should have a role in defining what being American means to us. That is why we created the national project We Are America Project. Our goal is to help spark a new national conversation around what it means to be American, and we want that conversation to be led by our generation. We want to take what we started in our classroom in Lowell, Massachusetts and work to include the voices of more young people across our nation. We believe that we all have an important story to tell that needs to be heard.
We are excited to be working with teachers across our country, who in turn are working with more than 1500 students. We are now working with our second cohort of teachers and each class will be writing a book composed of the personal stories of identity of the students in their class, stories that together will give us a richer and deeper understanding of what it means to be American. And these stories will be recorded here on our website to listen and learn from!
We are partnering with three leading national partners: Facing History and Ourselves, Re-Imagining Migration, and New York’s Tenement Museum.