Stories

At the 2018 Call to Action shoot
Lucretia Commerce, Georgia

I spent 20 years on welfare. I had four children, in poverty. Now my seven grandchildren have something to strive for. “I can’t” - that’s hogwash. I am an American that happens to be black.

Dr. Day Gardner at the White House
Day Hammonton, New Jersey

My father said, "We are a part of a very unique and amazing country - you can be anyone you want to be.” These were the words he gave to all six of my siblings. We were part of a small community of black families in a hard working, middle class neighborhood. This was the sustaining foundation I took with me to college where I entered the Miss Delaware Pageant in 1974, and represented the state as the first black Miss Delaware at the Miss USA Pageant in 1976. It wasn’t until I received death threats …

Kelly
Kelly Seoul, South Korea

The dictionary was my best friend when I first came to this country. The truth is that back home there seemed to be fewer options for me. People did what their parents did, so I went to school to be a teacher. But after my first year in the field I knew it was not for me. And there were no prospects for marriage at the time so I felt stuck…

Look up, move forward.
Vivian East Point, GA

The military changed mindsets and culture for our family for three generations - we saw America at its finest in the men and women that serve our country through hard work, based on their own merit, not the color of the skin but through the content of their character.

Shelley
Shelley New York City, NY

I've been the black sheep in my family. There were opportunities gained and opportunities lost, but every morning we can choose to restart our lives no matter how bad the decisions were in the past. We can rebrand ourselves - and as Americans we can spread that message…

Nathaniel
Nathaniel Atlanta, GA

I was born to a Columbian-American mother and a Mexican father. They were young, and uneducated when they married but not too young to make sure that I had the best education available. That is something America gave my family. A free education. And with that one benefit I know my life can be anything I want it to be. Our homes in Mexico were larger than what we have here, but the things I take for granted: game systems, TV's, expensive shoes, all but make up for it. I was told that the gangs were the main reason my father's family moved to the States; looking for another option that did not involve bullets…

Elizabeth
Elizabeth Phoenix, AZ

I try to walk away from it, but I can't turn it off - once I see an injustice, I must speak. One of the best things I've learned is to allow others to express ideas and their own opinions. To share ideas freely is one of the freedoms we enjoy here in America. I feel like I can speak to any individual faction (politically)…

Anthony
Anthony Bronx, NY

There is an open secret in America. It is that our people are our greatest resource; with our entrepreneurial spirit, and dedication to freedom. Biology says we are all one race: Human. Geography doesn't change your biology - it might change the ethnicity you are born with, but it does not change your race. The Constitution is the great equalizer between people's ethnicities…

Gabriela
Gabriela Arad, Romania

I think it is so different for me, this idea of America. I came here when I was 5. I am an American. My kids are American. But I am also a product of my home country. In my life today, my biggest problem is keeping my house clean. My husband and I have two young children. Chasing them around my home is an American dream come true. I could never have achieved the freedom to choose what I want to do in life, or where I want to live if my father had not run (through) the Romanian border to immigrate here…

Stephen
Stephen Springfield, Missouri

I never considered myself Japanese-American. My dad was third generation. My grandparents wanted their kids to be American. I virtually had no Japanese heritage growing up. It wasn't until my senior year of high school when I was called to the office that I realized I was considered a minority…

Rey
Rey Caguas, Puerto Rico

Dedication pays off. That's my statement to anyone. Have heart. Stay focused. You can accomplish anything you want. I call myself the Mayor of everybody…

Lisa Noël
Lisa Noël Philadelphia, PA

When I was growing up, my mother used to drive us to affluent neighborhoods to look at mansions. And she would say, “You can live there one day.” And at the end of that day we would drive back to the ghetto and stand in line for government cheese or go hungry, and deal with the lights being out trying to do homework with no school supplies…

Julie
Julie Bellevue, WA

Tradition plays into the American fabric. Benjamin Franklin reached out to each of our founding fathers, when they were writing the documents that this nation is built on. In their quiet reflection, those men began to understand that in order for freedom to truly reign in a country, people have to let love lead through listening. I worked my way through college. That was the beginning of my American dream - an education. But years later, I had a daughter who was born with genetic disorder…

Lisa
Lisa Chicago, IL

I'm not going to sugar coat it - there is discrimination. Ethnic minorities have always found it difficult to fit into the mainstream, to belong, and to feel accepted. I have painful memories growing up with prejudice and racism. But these difficulties and memories do not stop me from loving America…

Mykael
Mykael Brooklyn, NY

The Constitution is what makes America America. America keeps me employed. I travel and share experiences through music. Sometimes I think people just need to sit down…

Picture of Valerie
Valerie Buffalo, NY

I have lived a life doing my part. I never listened to the predetermined paths people tried to put me on. That allowed me to do my part. And that could have only happened in America…

Dazel
Dazel Tulsa, OK

Even though I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, there was never overt racism. It may have been there but it was behind closed doors. It never hindered my forward progress although it did bring up trust issues. But I think my experience wasn't what people think…

Marcia's Grandparents
Marcia Springfield, MA

I took for granted a natural-born, diverse childhood. I never thought about prejudice, not even in the MLK times. We just understood that you could overcome obstacles with hard work. My grandparents were immigrants…

Thiem
Thiem Hong Kong, China

If you google Vietnamese boat people you might find my parents. In my internet millennial existence in America, there are few reminders of that time. The internet opened my mind to a world my parents couldn't imagine. But the new life my family found here enables me to be a part of something bigger…

Tyler
Tyler Cleveland, TN

I tend to see my life as a documentary, because as an American my culture has been shaped by the different movements that a hand full of people took action upon and decided to influence a cause for change. The repetitive pattern of change that can take place in America shifts thought, redirects greed, and creates situational dependencies that challenge you…

Dr. Rich Rogers
Rich Dallas, Texas

We were proud to be from where we were from. Nothing special. A working class town of blue collar families. That was my childhood. We did not expect anything to be handed to us. We expected to work. The decision of how hard or how long was up to each one of us. Up until about 6 months ago, I’m sure I’ve never worked less than four jobs for most of my life. I worked to pay for college and I’m still paying...

LaNell
LaNell Atlanta, GA

I think what we've done right far outweighs what we've done wrong. Sure there have been atrocities but there is no place in the world where you can go that there haven't been atrocities. I've seen that first hand growing up in the Civil Rights movement. I lived through the marches and the dogs and the water hoses. But everybody in the world hasn't tried to correct their mistakes…

Dave
Dave New Dehli, India

I may not be the average immigrant. Back home I had more political influence, more high powered associations, more money to be blunt. But in my searching for the best place to raise my family, I found America to be the only place that stood out to be a proponent of the human condition...

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