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Representative Melony Bell: Our Shared Civic Duties, Florida

As told by Representative Melanie Bell
Bartow, Florida

Story Narrative:

A woman with long brown hair and a black shirt speaks with an interviewer.

In early 2020 (just weeks before the pandemic), Smithsonian staff and their storytelling partners at the Peale, Baltimore, traveled to multiple states in the U.S. to ask residents of those states about voting experiences, the current state of American democracy, what issues brought them to the polls, how they made a difference in their communities, and what Americans' civic responsibilities were, among other complex questions.

Melanie Bell (00:00): Well, number one thing would be, vote. If you want a voice, you need to register. Go down and register and be able to vote.

(00:08): People don't realize what our ancestors did for us. They fought, they died, they gave it all for us to have this big right to go out and vote. People that complain, if you don't vote, you don't have a voice, I feel like.

(00:22): But beyond that, getting involved in not just local clubs, getting involved in your local politics, serving on a board of adjustments, or serving on boards with the county, sidewalk boards, learning more, educating yourself on budgets. What is our money going towards? Not only just city, county, but state levels.

(00:48): So, I feel that that is your civic responsibility, everybody's civic responsibility, to get involved. And just don't go out and talk it, but walk it, and walk it every day. And join clubs, the Kiwanis Club or the Rotaries, and be involved that you know what's going on in our community.

Asset ID: 2022.37.12.e-f
Themes: Voting, Civic Duty, Civic Responsibilities, Education, Participation
Date recorded: January 9, 2020
Length of recording: 0:01:15
Related traveling exhibition: Voices and Votes: Democracy in America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Polk County History Center, Bartow, Florida, in conjunction with Florida Humanities
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