The Chance to ‘See America In Color’ or ‘See America In Conflict’: Which Will Folks Choose for a Higher Level of Citizenship?

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

It’s midnight in America! What will folks see when the dust clears or at sunrise? That’s a question many are asking after events of the past few days and weeks. All this has been happening while dealing with the global Coronavirus pandemic. It’s also happening as the nation prepares to celebrate another Independence Day.

Red, White & Blue

People at home and abroad are trying to understand the trauma experienced by black men in America. Meantime, others are turning the peaceful protests into property damage and extreme agendas. Some aspects of these events might take us back to the Boston Tea Party protest, which led to the American Revolution. Back then many were unhappy with being treated as second-class citizens by the British Empire. This dissatisfaction included a list of grievances that led to the Declaration of Independence.

To bring a See America In Color view to the broader story, those fighting for the colonies saw this as a moment to establish a ‘new & improved’ country, aka the United States of America. However, many African-Americans have had mixed feelings about Independence Day because it celebrated fireworks before achieving their freedoms. Remember, Emancipation didn’t come until long after Independence. Fast-forward to what’s happening today, and it might shed light on whether we choose to ‘See America In Color’ or ‘See America In Conflict.’

To ‘See America In Color’ is to merge American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and Hometown Strong comebacks into a better picture of civic/social issues for a higher level of citizenship. In one sense, the upside of the Revolution was in creating a vision for America through the founding documents. But to ‘See America In Conflict’ is to not address legitimate issues and basically keep the ‘grievance train’ running from coast to coast. This might be what those with extreme ideologies want to see happen as a different kind of fireworks.

Fireworks Display

Why were the founding documents an important part of America’s beginnings? Well it spoke to aspirational ideals and timeless principles. But the recurring theme is whether those ideals keep falling short for African-Americans. They fell short right out the gate because Blacks were treated as second-class and of three-fifths human value. So, what can we learn from America’s upside and downside in going forward after the recent events of protest and unrest?

Well it’s been said “where there’s no vision the people perish.” It might also be said that “where there’s no vision, something else will move in and take its place.” Unfortunately, in the current political climate, less time is spent on providing us a vision. This has left a vacuum for disinformation to move in. It’s almost as if we’re not only dealing with Covid-19. We’re also dealing with a virus called ‘Disinfo-20’ that’s infecting citizens and institutions. We need a vision for America, communities, families and citizens to null the effects of the ‘Disinfo-20’ virus. If the founding documents are a guide, that vision needs to reflect the:       

  1. Rights of people

The Declaration of Independence reminds us, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (women) are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” George Floyd had a right to be treated as a human being, not as a ‘catch of prey.’ Hunting prey is often seen as sport. But if we say we’ve abolished slavery and slave catchers, then this can’t be the way we view human life in the 21st century.

  1. Role of government
U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution begins with the words “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….” The role of government isn’t to divide us as a nation but to ensure the fulfillment of personhood, protection, promise and prosperity. The U.S. motto E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) should be a kind of self-check done by public officials running for and serving in office towards advancing the greater good.

  1. Responsibility of citizens

In TV ads we’re reminded to complete the census, register to vote and actually go out and vote. These steps are important because rights without responsibility make a mockery of democracy. That’s what some people miss when emphasizing the ‘Bill of Rights’ Amendments. There should also be a sense of responsibility. Even Thomas Jefferson once said “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

  1. Results for humanity

Just think about how far we’ve come since the ‘60s in advancing color TV. We went from No-K to 4K picture quality. But with civic/social issues are we still stuck in the 60s and the idea of ‘no justice, no peace?’ That’s why if we choose to ‘See America In Color’ as opposed to ‘See America In Conflict’ it will help to advance results for humanity. This means turning grievances into goals for a higher level of citizenship.

Hometown Leader

Even with Coronavirus still a concern, we had protests in the east, protests in the west, protests up north and protests down south. The main outcry has been about justice for George Floyd and freedom from despair. It’s like the perfect storm of Covid-19 anxiety, ‘Disinfo-20’ distrust, unresolved tensions around social injustices and boiled-over rage/destruction. So, to move forward beyond these issues we can build-on SAIC’s Project “Strong 2 Strong” with a vision for better days as families, communities and citizens.

You can join the conversation and support our efforts to “See America In Color: With 2020 Vision” at the Facebook ‘Hometown Chat’ Page here www.facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.     

Tracks: Beyoncé – Freedom – https://youtu.be/yh91lO-PU0o 

One Republic – Better Days – https://youtu.be/fnHlRQZZbbY


The Community Dance: Economic Restart, Hometown Rebound and the Road Back to Reopening Main Street

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

It’s been 50+ days without ‘live’ sports coverage on TV. During that time, networks have been showing old games from past tournaments like the NBA playoffs, NCAA Big Dance or Masters golf classics. So, what happens when there’s a drop-off in sports coverage? Well, fans make do as The Last Dance becomes the #1 documentary on television.

Golf Pro

The series reminds us of how ‘Be Like Mike’ was a catchy slogan back in the day when Michael Jordan dominated pro basketball. Unfortunately, the catchy slogans these days point to an infectious virus that has shutdown everyday life as we know it. With elected officials thinking about reopening for business, there is a delicate balance between public health and economic health that must be managed. They need to consider risks associated with losing lives and losing livelihoods.

Just think about some of the pain folks have already been through. In NY we lost essential workers on the frontlines, in some cases because they did not have protective gear. In Louisiana we lost a few members of a social club who were part of the last Mardi Gras parades. Authorities in Prince George’s county Maryland, one of the wealthiest black populations in the U.S., are dealing with a big outbreak of the virus. The push to reopen things cannot just be with slogans about ‘liberating’ communities. In the same way that a winning sports play is carefully thought-out on the sidelines and coach’s box, the next steps gotta be carefully thought-out when it comes to life and death.

It seems Governors are doing the heavy lifting. From New York to California, New Jersey to Maryland and points south, they have released 12-point plans, 4-phased rollouts and 6-step strategies for returning things to normal. They have announced distinguished leaders who will work as a reopening taskforce in each state and across regional lines. As to whether normal is what we knew of before, no one’s sure. Maybe we won’t know until sports events are back to their regular programming schedule.

What’s it gonna take to fully embrace these restart efforts? In addition, how are we gonna forge a hometown rebound that empowers families, communities and citizens near & far? Well it might mean looking back to early human history. Plus, there’s something we learn from companies that were started or thrived during economic depression, recession and deflation. This is a look-back to move forward that’s not simply stuck-in nostalgia. It’s why our See America In Color social impact campaign set out to reboot civics education, refresh civic engagement, reset cultural messaging and revive social spirit.  It’s why we’re currently developing a prototype for ‘Friday Night Flights’ to take civic engagement and career dreams to new heights.

Community Dance

The ‘community dance’ at the club, sports arena or block party might be on hold a while longer. For now, we get to do a little ‘tootsie slide and chill.’ But back in the days of plagues, floods and pestilence there was a period of 7-year abundance followed by a 7-year famine. How they recovered then gives us hope as our nation goes from a period of abundance with 10+ years of job growth and stock market climbs, to who knows how long a period of job loss and hard times we have yet to see. A ‘hometown rebound’ plan whether from government officials or at the family, community and citizen levels should be based on how we:

  1. Organize our strengths

A recent event streamed ‘live’ on ESPN showed ‘Game of Thrones’ star and weight-lifter setting a new world record for 1,104 pounds deadlift. That was an individual effort but organizing our strengths is also like a group effort of citizens lifting a SUV to save someone from a burning vehicle. As health officials solemnly report the death-toll, multiple Governors are working as a coalition to organize the strengths of their states. It’s what companies will have to do to make it through the downtime in order to bounce-back over time.

2. Mobilize our resources

Food Bank

News reports say farmers are dumping millions of gallons of milk, hundreds of thousands of eggs and putting-down farm animals because the food-processing chain has been disrupted by the shutdown. You would think that with Food Banks having a big increase in demand, that we’d be able to get them the resources that’s being thrown away. How we mobilize our resources will make a difference in turning what we have into what others don’t have and therefore being more than enough to fill the need.

3. Maximize our skills

In life we show up with divinely endowed gifts/skills as well as those we develop through education and training. Some skills are there to fulfill us financially, emotionally, intellectually, physically. Other skills are there to fulfill a larger calling, purpose and lifelong passions. In other words, we maximize our skills by how with grow in mind, body and spirit in a holistic way as individuals and in a civic way as families/communities working towards ‘unity of purpose.’

4. Realize our value

The value we bring to the table, block or marketplace is our collective efforts from work, play and mutual support towards having our best life experiences. Sometimes that means how we monetize our professional game. But it might also mean how we humanize things in the comings and goings of life. Our value can be seen in how we empower lives and livelihoods for lifestyle moments and legacy actions.

Main Street

So, in the coming weeks and months elected officials will be laser-focused on having the right timelines for reopening Main Street. School officials will be studying changes that have to be made for reopening schools. Company executives will be reviewing plans for employees returning to the workplace bit by bit. How we handle the climb out of this, even after each tear some may wipe away, depends on a ‘hometown rebound’ plan that also empowers families, communities and citizens everywhere.

You can join the conversation and support our efforts to “See America In Color: With 2020 Vision” at the Facebook ‘Hometown Chat’ Page here www.facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.     

Tracks: Miley Cyrus – The Climb – https://youtu.be/NG2zyeVRcbs

Mary J. Blige ft Jay Sean – Each Tear – https://youtu.be/Xvash3C5G9c


America Pride Override: 3 Ways Where Civic Engagement Brings Change on the Soup Lines and Troop Lines

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

Where were you when…? That’s a question often tied to major life moments. Whether on the local or national scene, there are social change markers when shifts happened in our day-to-day living. This may be where we find ourselves during the Coronavirus pandemic as cases spike and news of infections hit closer to home.

Social Change Markers

At times, people have asked that question to help them review prior events. Some millennials may have asked amongst friends or biz associates, “where were you when the housing bubble burst which led to the market crash of 2008, or when the first plane hit the twin towers in 2001?” With the Coronavirus outbreak, years from now folks might be asking “where were you when the world changed?”

If you’re looking at such historical, social and cultural events through the lens of the See America In Color (SAIC) civic engagement campaign, the backstory and takeaways point to a re-occurring theme. Yes, there was personal grief, economic pain and social challenges. In addition, you’ll also find a system issue that was somewhat a factor being overlooked initially but then changed eventually as a kind of ‘social override.’ This is an important reason why the SAIC Essay Contest for America’s students plays an important part for how we reboot civics education. Moreover, with teamwork among educators, administrators, parents and community leaders, we hope to add Arts, Science and Health categories to the contest.  

Store Checkout Line

We can think of this ‘social override’ like getting to the checkout line at the store and finding a price difference for an item. The price on the display may have been changed, but the price in the system was not. The clerk calls over the supervisor for an override. The consumer gets the benefit of the new lower price, not the old higher price. That’s how SAIC can foster change where civic engagement brings the override.

We can use this as a guide for how we bounce-back after the Coronavirus pandemic or how we spotlight Independence Day in a new way. Throughout history it’s been a kind of ‘America Pride Override’ (APO) that took us from colonial times to independence, slavery to abolition, segregation to civil rights. So, APO may be useful in taking us from “America Divide to E Pluribus Unum” (out of many one) and from public disinformation to civics reboot and engagement.

Even though the virus outbreak canceled NCAA March Madness and put the NBA season on hold, there’s something we can take from basketball to step-up our ‘civics game.’ In the same way that the 3-point shot changed the game with a new way of scoring, we can be #HometownStrong along three lanes in the community. In other words, we can add a 3-point shot to our civics game as a:

  • Roster player

Making a college or pro team is a big deal. You’re listed on the roster with a spot on the squad. When we complete the Census, we’re put on the civic roll. As citizens when we register to vote, we’re part of the election roll and get to have a seat at the table. Plus, people choose to serve on hometown projects in a selfless, give-themselves-away manner and score big. An engaged citizen is important to a great society as a roster player is to a champion team.

Hometown Project Team
  • Role player

Basketball has court positions of center, guard or forward. Those who become role players do more than just play their positions. They affect the game in ways that might not necessarily make the stat sheet. A citizen ‘role player’ shares their voice or scores high points beyond the stat sheet. Imagine, if the Empire State Building can shine a light for first responders and other frontline players, then we can be points-of-light for our fellow citizens in the community.

  • Franchise player

This is often the face-of-the-team or game leader who sees the big picture. It can be the go-to person in a close game or the key player at the buzzer. Citizens become franchise players when they see the big picture of a community vision for living their best life. They see what civics reboot and engagement mean for country.

So, will Coronavirus deepen disagreements and disinformation or help us move past ‘America Divide’? Even with empty streets, we look forward to a new day for how SAIC makes a difference and fulfills a larger purpose. The public will have more knowledge of the price we pay for not questioning elected officials or challenging those who shamelessly spread disinformation.

Empty Streets

In the past when America’s pride hinged on shameless policies (e.g. slavery, segregation) the civic response was an override to bring priceless change (e.g. abolition, civil rights). That’s why SAIC isn’t meant to be political, but instead aspirational towards our best life experiences. Throughout history it’s been civic engagement that brought change to the soup line, troop line and maybe even now for the soul train line at the virtual party next door.   

You can join the conversation and support our efforts to “See America In Color: With 2020 Vision” at the Facebook ‘Hometown Chat’ Page here www.facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.     

Tracks: Alicia Keys– New Day – https://youtu.be/yvZwSPhvjts 

Jill Scott – Golden – https://youtu.be/4QCXr79Rkcw


6 Categories of Scholarships, 17 Award Levels & Major Hometown Recognition for NJ Public School Students, Educators and Community Officials

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Of Social

The See America In Color (SAIC) civic engagement campaign hit a milestone on March 7th by handing out scholarships, awards and recognition to NJ students, educators and public officials. It was sort of a coming-out party for the project that’s been in the works for 7+ years to include an essay contest, ‘MVP Club’ (Many Valuable Parents) and hometown forums celebrating all-round citizen excellence.

This event happened on the heels of a special bulletin issued by the campaign in February which asked the question “Should National Civics Day be a thing?” The message behind ‘SAIC 2020’ is to reboot civics education, refresh civic engagement, reset cultural messaging and revive social spirit.

Civics Update

SAIC is about how we update our civics to advance roots & culture and make us better. This gives a clearer picture of history, family, culture, country, civic and social issues for a higher level of citizenship. It also means adding ‘smarts’ to civics the way tech leaders do for gadgets. The campaign isn’t political. It’s aspirational so that we can be #HometownStrong as ever!

Founder/Creator Douette ‘Doc’ Cunningham shared his excitement for the project and the support provided by those across education, business, media, government and community. In telling the project’s backstory which came out of national news from 2012 to 2015, he said “We hope to expand the essay contest with new categories to include Arts, Science & Health, as well as engaging schools and communities across the country. This will build on the support shown in NJ, for a fired-up future.”

Fired-up Future

The list of student, educator and community awards is impressive. This achievement involved careful planning and collaborative leadership. Big thanks to Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A for their donations in food/beverages. Those in attendance were reminded of Maya Angelou’s words who once said “A person is the product of their dreams. So make sure to dream great dreams. And then try to live your dreams.”

You can support our efforts to “See America In Color: With 2020″ Vision at the GoFundeMe crowdfunding page, search for ‘seeamericaincolor’  http://www.gofundme.com/f/seeamericaincolor

Student Awards

Middle School Level

  • Bayonne Vroom School
    • Oluwaseun Ilori (winner)
    • Mikayla Camacho-Reciek (runner-up)
  • Mt Holly Holbein School
    • Elizabeth Curillo (winner)
    • Chika Nlemigbo (runner-up)
  • Hoboken School
    • Jessida Urquiaga (winner)
    • Alexys Sayaan (runner-up)

High School Level

  • Franklin Township School (Somerset)
    • Akshay Gokul (winner)
    • Sam Gorczyca (runner-up)

South Jersey Middle School Rising Star

  • Mt Holly Holbein School
    • Elizabeth Curillo (winner)
    • Chika Nlemigbo (runner-up)

North Jersey Middle School Rising Star

  • Bayonne Vroom School
    • Oluwaseun Ilori (winner)
    • Mikayla Camacho-Reciek (runner-up)

Statewide Middle School Level

  • Hoboken School
    • Jessida Urquiaga (winner)
    • Alexys Sayaan (runner-up)

Statewide High School Level

  • Franklin Township School (Somerset)
    • Akshay Gokul (winner)
    • Sam Gorczyca (runner-up)

Educator ‘Civic Spirit Award’

  1. Giselle Torres: 6th Grade Social Studies, Bayonne Vroom School
  2. James E. DiDonato: Superintendent, Mt Holly Township School
  3. Dr. Tamika Pollins: Director, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Hoboken School
  4. Justin S. Miller: Supervisor, History & World Languages, Franklin Township School

Community Awards

  1. Super Citizen Award: Senator Cory Booker
  2. Public Servant Award: Kari Osmond, Deputy Chief-of-Staff, NJ 12th congressional district
  3. Civic Media Award: Nicole Carroll, USA Today Editor-in-Chief
  4. School Innovator Award: Dr John Ravally, Superintendent, Franklin Township School
  5. Dream Team Award: Frankie Lynne, SAIC volunteer
  6. Business Leader Award: Sophie Stein, Chick-fil-A Operator
  7. Hometown Leader Award: Franklin Township Councilwoman Kimberly Francois

Tracks: Raleigh Ritchie – Stronger Than Ever – https://youtu.be/QoyMvE5g7f8 

Grace Carter – Fired Up – https://youtu.be/kOfCuVDXjI0                   


State of the Culture: What 5G Will Mean for the Next Big Thing in Civic Life

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

What was the big reveal from this year’s Oscar Awards or Superbowl game? Well the Oscars is still dealing with fallout from not having a host for the show over recent years. This time they called on past hosts Steve Martin and Chris Rock to do an opening bit. It had some folks thinking…heck they might as well have hosted the whole show.

Concert Performance

With the Superbowl, fans were buzzing about the halftime performance of showing more skin while sports commentators were breaking down how the Kansas City Chiefs pulled out a win. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were the first-ever latin pair to perform on the big stage. Since then, they’ve had over 100 million views of their performance on a Youtube channel.

Maybe a takeaway from the game that’s just as big was about 5G phone networks coming to a boulevard near you. The wireless companies are all rolling out their version of 5G this year. The tech articles say that it’s a major speed boost for device-to-device communication. It’s also a plus for how gadgets will connect with each other over the Internet.

The See America In Color (SAIC) campaign is getting ready to make its 5G pitch at the upcoming Awards event. The Superbowl might have been a place for some firms to give theirs. Plus, by now we’ve had the State of the Game Report from the Commissioner. We’ve heard from public officials and biz execs with the State of the Union, State of the State, State of the City and State of the Brand. So with 5G on the minds of some regular citizens, who’s getting ready to give the State of the Culture Report?

5G Network

As we wait to see what 5G will mean for our social apps and digital maps, what will it mean for the next big thing in civic life? Will we choose between 5 Lanes of Grievance or 5 Lanes of Greatness? It’s like the old saying, ‘misery loves company.’ Well social division loves grievance. How we use 5G in civic life depends on whether we enrage or engage our citizen-to-citizen communication in business, media, education, government and community.

When we “See America In Color: With 2020 Vision” and with a Black History Moment view along 5 Lanes of Greatness, we’ll have a better picture for how privilege gets masked as fear. This happened during the lead-up to the Civil War. Some still question whether it was about economics or race. The record shows that secession (breaking away from the USA) was about slavery and slavery was about economics. The State of the Culture back then was fear of losing the privileged position others had from slavery, which brought States to war.

After the war ended the nation entered a phase of Reconstruction. It was a time of mixed feelings as some saw it as a chance to re-unite while others used it to incite. We’re seeing some of that in the State of the Culture today. It reminds us that there’re times when ignorance gets masked as cute. One example from back then was how name-calling occurred among public officials.

Segregation Sign

Words like “scalawags and carpetbaggers” were used by those wanting to maintain the privileged status-quo against those pushing for Emancipation reforms. We also saw during Segregation there were ‘Colored’ signs in towns and cities. In today’s State of the Culture, a different set of terms are being used where hate gets dressed up as personal/political conviction. This pollutes the social atmosphere and makes the civic environment toxic.

There’re different ways that hate might show-up on the hometown front. But the root of the matter is when prejudice gets dressed up as black & white. Some like to say they don’t see color. Upon further review, it’s really a question of whether we’re dealing with bias at the edges of the screen or racism at the core of the picture. When we See America In Color, we can move from being ‘color narrow’ to being ‘civic smart.’ That’s like what has happened in TVs going from black & white to ‘HD smart’.

Civic Engagement Speech

With the SAIC essay contest and civics programs being rolled out, we’re not waiting for the next incident of bias/bullying, violence, hate or tragedy to be trending on social media for us to See America In Color. What if we waited for #BrushYourTeeth or #TakeABath or #BuyGasNow to be trending before doing what we should? We’d have lots of stopped cars on the road, missing teeth among friends and ‘smelly tragedies’ in public spaces. SAIC is where we believe that civics isn’t supposed to be political. It’s meant to be aspirational as citizens, workers and students connect with one another and get the ‘W’ for next-level goals and dreams.

You can support our efforts to “See America In Color: With 2020 Vision” at the crowdfunding page here www.gofundme.com/f/seeamericaincolor.     

Tracks: Meek Mill Ft Justin Timberlake – Believe – https://youtu.be/4rNo-UuGDfA 

Koffee Ft Gunna – ‘W’ – https://youtu.be/XQF69A3oGjM


Your American Story: 4 Reasonable Goals for a Nation That’s Working on Being Clear-Eyed and Civic-Smart as Citizens

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are getting ready to split! Not from each other but from their official role and Royal standing. After making the announcement, there were some interesting reactions from the Palace, media outlets and across social platforms. It seems the next steps are a little more ‘complicated’ than issuing a public statement.

Royal Duties

While the Queen has come out in full support of their decision, there’re some details yet to iron-out. The message is that Harry & Meghan are trying to forge a new sense of independence from the Royal family. They want to be clear-eyed in the decision on their future but still be civic-smart in their ongoing duty.

That isn’t exactly like the American story, but one can relate it with the split forged at our Independence. Here we are over 200+ years later and there’re still some issues for which things get ‘complicated.’ It’s as if the next best thing we need now is how we See America In Color With 2020 Vision to be more clear-eyed and civic-smart as citizens.

Thankfully we’re off to a nice start with the See America In Color (SAIC) Essay Contest that’s supported by New Jersey’s educators, administrators, students and public officials. As the contest prepares to hand-out awards and special recognition, the finalists have been narrowed down to frontrunners or “The Front Four” schools.

The Frontrunners

Beyond celebrating these schools/students, SAIC also has four reasonable goals for achieving “smart blocks, woke civics, strong citizens.” It starts by how we reboot civics education. After some recent troubling incidents of social conflict in the NY tri-state area, a public official said, “We can’t ‘police’ our way out of this problem.” That’s a point of agreement shared by SAIC which is why our focus is to help us ‘school’ our way out in a literal and cultural sense.

It takes spreading a message of understanding that moves our dialogue from the broken record of “Thoughts & Naysayers” to a 2020 vision of “Hope & Trailblazers.” What these current events teach our children in human relation terms gets carried forward into their lives as adults in the future. We prepare for what the next generation will do in sports performance, so why not in civics education. That’s why another SAIC goal is to focus on how we refresh civic engagement.

Windshield Wiper Effect

The cultural space can be a mixed-message mashup of opposing themes. The points of information go back and forth, from left to right, from clear to unclear, from truth to untruth. It’s like the windshield wiper effect. When visibility gets very bad during a rainstorm, we might pull off the road until the downpour eases. With our current social climate, the downpour of back-and-forth versions of a story might lead to such confusion causing citizens to pull-away from civic engagement.

This means we need to reset cultural messaging in the social space. Think about it this way: imagine if we were constantly arguing about the days of the week? Imagine if we couldn’t decide on whether Monday was Monday, or Wednesday was Wednesday? Since we operate on a standard calendar of days, weeks, months and year, we’re able to avoid such confusion. SAIC offers a new program standard for connecting the dots between history, family, culture, country and civic/social issues.

As a nation we’re at a point where we must consider what’s needed to revive social spirit. We can’t keep seeing stories of harm, injury, insult and sometimes hometown tragedy and think that’s the new normal. Take as an example when a player goes down on the football gridiron. The training staff might help them off the field into the pop-up medical tent on the sideline. Then depending on how the staff resolves the injury or revives the player, we’ll see their return to the game.

Football Gridiron

Well ‘SAIC 2020’ isn’t some magic fix for all the social challenges of our nation. But it is an effort to reboot civics education, refresh civic engagement, reset cultural messaging and revive social spirit. As with Duchess Meghan, sometimes we find ourselves feeling under pressure to certain traditions or outdated methods. In the case of Prince Harry, he may feel as if he wants a breakaway from Royals-controlled ‘city life’ to a more freestyle arrangement. In a sense, SAIC is about the things we do to return to the game to make an impression, an imprint or an impact towards a higher level of citizenship.

You can help tackle these issues or support SAIC’s part in a massive social response at our crowdfunding page here www.gofundme.com/f/seeamericaincolor.   

  Tracks: Leslie Odom Jr. – Under Pressure – https://youtu.be/cSDKD94K6TM 

Rebelution – City Life – https://youtu.be/GKj5WNm5oDE


Hey America, Listen Up! What It’s Gonna Take for us to See the Problem, Adjust the Picture and Update the Set of Social Tools for a New Reality

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

Long before we had color TVs with remote control and a DVR box there was the black & white picture tube. Those days we had to turn a knob on the TV to change channels. After a while things began to get shaky when turning the knob where the picture became fuzzy or had lines across the screen. You would soon need a new TV set.

Old-School TV

Those times are long gone in the age of handheld clickers and QLED sets. With the press of a button you can change channels and with the pre-installed factory settings you can select a picture view for different types of shows. That has become the new reality for how we experience in-home entertainment.

These days as we watch breaking news stories or trending hashtags on social media you may wonder what needs to change. One report might be about an incident of hate. Another revolves around an outburst of violence. And maybe even another points to issues of bias and bullying. In many cases, the events cause a massive police response or social media outburst.

Hey America, listen up! What we need as a response to these incidents might not be just another press conference or trending topic. It’s going to take a gameplan with a massive social response for us to see the problem, adjust the picture and update the set of social tools for a new reality. That’s the gameplan of the “See America In Color” (SAIC) essay contest and civic engagement campaign.

This massive social response needs to cover areas of purpose learning and civics education. As we prepare the next generation for the job skills of the marketplace, we must also prepare them with the life-smarts of the 21st century. When you read the ‘last notes’ or manifestos or social media footprint around some of these incidents, they send a message that’s less of a shoutout and more of a cry-out to America.

Civics Education

As it relates to civics education, we may have arrived at a point where some might prefer to vote for a reality show contestant than for a candidate running for public office. Nowadays it’s so much easier to be connected to your favorite singer than it is to be connected to a sense of civic duty.

There may even be a social disconnect that’s less about ‘likes & clicks’ and more about connecting history, family, culture, country and civic/social issues. In other words, we find ourselves needing a reboot in civics education so that citizens can download some new information for social awareness.

Civics Reboot

This would help to relieve the lost, lonely, leader-less feeling that drives people towards hate by default instead of towards hope by desire. In the old days when the TV picture became fuzzy, we’d jostle the knob or change the channel hoping things cleared-up. These days a ‘jostling solution’ might not be enough to improve the social picture. We’ll need to make some system-wide changes to create a better picture and better sense for living their best life.  

When the Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence it spoke to a higher vision for the greatness of a nation. The pre-amble states “We holds these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they’re endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Well the SAIC ‘Declaration of Emergence’ speaks to a kind of service vision for a higher level of citizenship.

A Better Picture

As we see the problem, adjust the picture and update the social tools with the help of SAIC we begin to restore light to America. We’ll begin to experience a ‘lights up’ (vs a flare up) feeling from the images we see. We’ll have a better picture of civic/social issues for greatness in service as citizens of the world. This might be the new way to be down, get down or step into the light of #CitizenShining moments.

You can help tackle these issues or support SAIC’s part in the massive social response at our crowdfunding page here www.gofundme.com/f/seeamericaincolor.     

Tracks: Brandy ft. MC Lyte, Yo-Yo & Queen Latifah – I Wanna be Down  – https://youtu.be/MTl_y-Nq1yo

  Harry Styles – Lights Up – https://youtu.be/9NZvM1918_E


The Culture Challenge: What Can Friends, Family, Fans Do to Help Us Blaze a Trail in Streets, Towns & Cities?

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

These days it seems as if singing competition shows are everywhere. There’s The Voice and The Masked Singer that keep getting lots of buzz. There’s even a new show around ‘Musical Family.’ During the judging phase of these singing contests, fans have a chance to play along. They’ll vote for their favorite act or share a comment about some aspect of the performance.

Singing Star

The SAIC campaign and Essay Contest is in a new phase doing something similar called the Culture Challenge. It’s a way to ‘play along’ before crowning the winners. It’s a response to the question: “What can friends, family & fans do as Hometown MVPs to blaze a trail in streets, towns and cities?”

So here’s the deal on the Culture Challenge and its main points around how we celebrate ‘smart blocks, woke civics, strong citizens:’

  • Brag: The social part with ‘humble brag’ posts on Twitter (Mondays 4-5pm).

It’s about posting pictures or social notes (using hashtag #CultureChallenge) on how we might See America In Color at school, work, in business and the community. You can put the spotlight on things you’re already doing to blaze a trail in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. If you play along, it’s like being a ‘Culture Ambassador’ which adds to street cred.

  • Brains: The educational part as we learn about and talk about making things better.
Brain Power

Initially, Facebook was an idea for guys talking about the dating scene. Twitter was first about friends sharing notes on their ‘party’ status. The Internet started as an effort to have two computer systems talk to each other. With some brain power in the tech space we went from ‘dah to wow.’ Maybe SAIC can have a similar impact in the social space even if it didn’t set out to fix race relations. If our civics can be a ‘level playing field’ then how we learn about and talk about ‘roots & culture’ may help address a fractured nation.

  • Breakout: The developmental part as we ‘shake, rattle and roll’ our coins and dollars.

We plan to add Arts, Science and Health features to the essay contest in the future. Your donations to our Crowdfunding efforts will go a long way. You can participate as a school, social organization, association or employee/corporation to earn points and win. Folks, this is a chance to spread the word, breakout the checkbook, click the money app and celebrate the score among friends, family and fans. You’ll find more using Go-Fund-Me search keyword ‘seeamericaincolor.’ Wanna make a difference? www.gofundme.com/f/seeamericaincolor

Money App

Whether you first got word about SAIC by text, email, one-on-one or social media post, this is not a ‘me’ project but a ‘we’ project. With as many people being a ‘gust of wind’ beneath the wings of this effort, we’ll work together for a larger purpose. The SAIC campaign is ready for a new level so we can’t stop the feeling now. Just gotta keep imagining and dancing because in sports playoffs there’s the ‘bracket challenge’ but in the social space there’s the Culture Challenge.

Tracks: Swing out Sister – Breakout – https://youtu.be/IIOJdMdS56k 

Justin Timberlake – Cant Stop the Feeling – https://youtu.be/p5RobDomh5U


The Next Big Move in Culture: Where Communities Aren’t Relying on National Optics but Building Hometown Civics

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

Every major sports league has a time in its schedule where things shift to a higher level of play. Oftentimes there’s more at stake and team chemistry is a must. For baseball, the game considered as America’s pastime, that point in the fall calendar starts with the playoffs and ends with the World Series.

Not to suggest that the See America In Color campaign is on par with that kind of excitement, but we’re working with administrators, teachers and parents to spotlight some breakout performances too. It’s the kind where the essay contest will remind us that Kids Say the Deepest (and sometimes Dopest) Things.

World Series Excitement

As the essay contest ramps up at the regional level before selecting statewide winners, it has its own ‘playoffs.’ There may even come a time as new features are added in the future where SAIC has its own Essay Contest World Series to deliver a better picture of civic/social issues for a higher level of citizenship.

How we get there represents the next big move in culture where communities aren’t relying on national optics but building on hometown civics. It’s where there’s a willingness to fight for the greater good. It’s where ‘looking out only for #1’ isn’t seen as the social contract that drives America’s cultural endgame.

A winning spirit in biz and sports reveals something about a civic spirit in community and culture. Think about how teams enter the playoffs with the goal to win the big prize. How they get there is by having a system of practice, games and film study to improve their chances and raise their inner beliefs. Well SAIC came out of a system and is inspired by a dream, some tragic events and the study of modern history.

U.S. Constitution

So for SAIC to raise our inner beliefs and achieve its goals depends on how we boost our civic faith. It’s in having a citizen’s vision bigger than self where our ‘juices’ flow. Back in the 60s President John F. Kennedy declared we’d put a man on the moon. This made ‘citizens juices’ flow at all levels of society.

Go back even farther when the Founders described in the Constitution’s Preamble “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union.” That was a statement of Ideals that paved the way for having a civic purpose. It gave us a kind of social landmark and civic reason for being.

These days we use GPS to get to new places or see historic landmarks. Sometimes the route is obvious, other times it takes ‘seeing ahead’ towards the destination. That’s how SAIC as a system is a civic guide for directions. If we miss a turn or go off track, we can count on the system for re-calculating.

SAIC Civic Guide

The magic of having a system in sports is it gives players a framework for practice and games. The system also serves as a glue to keep the different parts on the field working together as a team. With SAIC we hope it will be a kind of civic glue as hometown teamwork makes the ‘I Have a Dream’ work.

So as the contest moves through its stages, we hope to select winners and plan a Campus Block Party. Some see SAIC as having a sort of ‘man on a mission’ vibe like in JFK’s time. But it’s possible there’re Hometown MVPs out there (Most Valuable Parents, Professionals, Pupils, People) who hold the keys to the kingdom in making SAIC bigger than just selfies.   

Tracks: Oh The Larceny (Suits Music) – Man on a Mission  – https://youtu.be/bF8B7wjizlA 

Beyoncé ft Tiwa Savage, Mr. Eazi – Keys to the Kingdom – https://youtu.be/QvHCdROc4Jk


Four Ways to Update Things in the Social/Cultural Space on the Block, in Civics, with Citizens & Community

Doc Cunningham
Sounding Off Social

The word is out after recent announcements to media and local e-broadcast channels. One is the new smart phone that has ‘pro’ in its name. The other is the See America In Color Essay Contest that has ‘smarts’ in its game. Folks are ready to put the new features to work in the classroom and the marketplace.

See America In Color in a Hometown Near You!

While not a tech gadget, the essay contest gives a glimpse for how we might update and celebrate ‘smart blocks, woke civics and strong citizens’ in the community. Take for example that more and more smartphone makers have devices with three back-facing cameras. You can now take wide-angle selfies and slow-motion video. When working with the app they deliver ‘triple-vision’ to the device.

The essay contest with the help of administrators, teachers and parents works with middle, high and college students. It will help deliver a 21st century vision to blaze a trail in roots and culture. It might be exciting to have three cameras in your phone or to engage students in the essay contest, but that’s not all to getting the most out of them in the classroom or the real world. A smart phone doesn’t work only as a phone. It has other important functions for the consumer.  

Some people are old enough to remember ‘black & white’ TVs before color, or the DOS operating system before Windows, or flip phones before smart phones. These technologies got us to where we are today with 5G networks and 8K TVs. Along the way, steps were taken to update things in the tech space where they operate. So how do we update our civics in the social/cultural space?

Well, think about how smart devices get a new look, feel and purpose. This gives a sense for how we update things the way tech firms do with gadgets. With each new school year there are curriculum objectives and student assignments. So, the first way we add ‘smarts’ to our Civics in the community, Social/American Studies in the classroom or Social Issues in the public space is to educate the present.

‘Read This First’

There’s often a 1-page sheet with new devices that says ‘read this first’ before using. Similarly, the See America In Color (SAIC) campaign and essay contest are about how we understand those ‘read this first’ aspects of American History, the Black to America story or Hometown Strong comebacks. We rarely read the whole manual of a new device or the full account of American history. But there’s some ‘read this first’ info from the campaign that help put the stories in context and connect the dots.

This campaign also has a kind of ‘throwback mode’ for looking to the past not to return to the past but to create the future. Consider some of the features in today’s cars like backup camera or blindspot alert. How did we function without them? We got by not having them but now they’re becoming a new standard. The campaign and essay contest offer a new standard in how we look back to create the future. Plus, there may be some ‘blindspot alerts’ that could get flagged in our civic/social space.

In the months ahead there’ll be many new and amazing picture/video postings on social media. The three-camera feature will give views of people, places and projects that are ‘out of this world.’ That’s the idea behind SAIC and the essay contest. It’s a project for how we elevate the game in civic/social issues for a higher level of citizenship. When we See America In Color, we will better understand the ‘black & white’ issues that started in the past and the multi-cultural view geared towards the future.

‘New Updates Available Now’

Lastly, this campaign is about how we update the now. Every so often we get a message on our phone or computer that says, ‘new updates available now.’ That usually means there are ‘bug’ fixes or improved features that have been made to the system. When we select ‘yes’ the phone or computer goes through some changes where it ‘updates the now.’ This gives us the latest version of the ‘bells & whistles’ with the device functions. Similarly, SAIC is about having the latest versions in ‘civic ideals & functions’ along with some new & improved changes to the system. We’ll get to move even closer to what the founding fathers called “a more perfect union.”

We all try to live our lives as ‘pros’ in some way. Whether in school, business, sports or civic duty we look to each new season or new device as a time to be better, do better and live better. SAIC and the essay contest aren’t just about how we See America In Color. They’re also about how we Do America In Color. More people will become a ‘believer’ as we reach higher for a better a nation and breath-in fresh ‘American Oxygen.’   

Tracks: Imagine Dragons – Believer  – https://youtu.be/7wtfhZwyrcc

Rihanna – American Oxygen – https://youtu.be/Ao8cGLIMtvg

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