ASU center receives award for democracy video

ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD) has been awarded $20,000 for a video they produced titled “Dear Democracy.” The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) hosted the contest, known as The Looking@Democracy Challenge, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The IHC received more than 400 entries from across the nation, all with the goal to spark ideas for strengthening American democracy.

The CSRD won second place for best entry for their submission, which may be viewed at

Cydney McFarland, a photojournalism student in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, filmed the interviews and developed the final digital media piece with the guidance of CSRD staff.

The message of the film aims to help build relationships and effective communication around the idea of democracy.

“The inspiration for the film came from the CSRD’s take on American democracy as a living, breathing, ever-evolving organism, forged and innovated by diverse individuals who form a single, dynamic body,” said Matthew C. Whitaker, founding director for the center.

The video calls on individuals to take to Twitter to respond with their interpretation and join others in a conversation regarding democracy.

“'Dear Democracy’ is a clearly voiced call to action for meaningful participation in our democracy,” said judge Byron Hurt. “It’s great to see such a rich diversity of voices weigh-in on the meaning of the word ‘democracy,’ which is one of the most recognized, yet misunderstood terms in the English language.”  

The contest’s first place winner is Destiny Galindo, a 17 year-old recent high school graduate from Phoenix, for her hip-hop music video.

The $20,000 prize will be used to fund forthcoming programming and new initiatives serving the ASU and surrounding communities during 2013-2014, including the Visionary Lecture in November, Delivering Democracy lecture in April and the New Generations Leadership Program.