As the United States nears its 250th year, North Carolina is preparing to commemorate this important historical marker.

The commemoration will focus on two interpretive concepts to explore our past, present, and future: Revolutionary NC (the historical events of the Revolution and NC) and When Are We US? (an exploration of the ideas of freedom, civic responsibility, overcoming challenges, and change as we lean into the ideals of democracy).

Our team worked with a subcommittee of creative colleagues from across the department to develop interpretive themes that will guide our commemorative activities, falling under these two large concepts.

These themes illustrate how we at DNCR are sourcing and developing content related to our two overarching themes that will define the statewide commemoration.

The first theme is that of the USA’s evolution through “Visions of Freedom." The American Revolution was an important marker on the continual journey towards true freedom for North Carolinians. Here we will highlight movements that pushed us closer to a better version of our state and nation – the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Suffrage, even scientific and industrial developments – and how they have all shaped who and what we are as North Carolinians striving for the ideals of 1776.

Our second theme is a “Gathering of Voices." This commemoration cannot be told through a single lived experience. The historic and modern-day voices and stories of North Carolinians serve to inspire others to take innovative steps toward a “More Perfect Union,” and to ensure that all voices are heard.

Our third theme is “Common Ground.” We must recognize that we are students, witnesses, and makers of history. Physical spaces hold shared stories of struggle, creation, and connection and our spaces of reverence (battlefields, historic spaces, the natural world) can echo happiness, violence, painful memories, evidence of struggles, rebirth, and growth. All hold the narratives of collective and individual struggle, creativity, and relationships to one another. We must always strive for common ground and ways to make our state a better place.

More Ways to Learn

Listen to the State Archives podcast Connecting the Docs episode: When are We US? America250: A Look to the Past to Inform Our Future with State Archivist Sarah Koonts and Becky McGee-Lankford, assistant state records administrator, to dive deeper into the commemorative themes

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