Bringing 'American Creed' to Your Library

'In turbulent times, what do we share in common? That’s the main question asked in one of the most widely carried PBS documentaries of the past year, "American Creed," which profiles citizen-activists around the country who are grappling with their communities’ deepest divides.

At this year’s ALA Annual Conference, filmmaker Sam Ball, director of the nonprofit Citizen Film, presented clips from "American Creed."

A student pledges allegiance to the flag in "American Creed," a PBS documentary that profiles citizen-activists around the country.
A student pledges allegiance to the flag in "American Creed," a PBS documentary that profiles citizen-activists around the country.

An exclusive version of the film, which drew an audience of more than 1 million people on PBS in 2018, is now available license-free to any public library that wishes to hold a scholar-facilitated conversation about America’s ideals and identity. In the documentaryDavid M. Kennedy and Condoleezza Rice come together from different perspectives to ask, “What ideals do we share in common?” Audiences around the country are invited to do the same. 

Citizen Film is collaborating with the National Writing Project to provide scholars, facilitation guides, $300 National Endoment for the Humanities-funded microgrants and a robust suite of audience-engagement resources for public libraries. Partnerships with local high schools are encouraged but not required. 

Attendees at the ALA conference screening received a free DVD copy with public performance rights for their libraries so that they may generate dialogue in their own communities.

Ball’s presentation about the making of this inspiring film was complemented by two librarians who spoke about their experiences hosting "American Creed" Community Conversation programs supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Microgrant recipients are required to host a screening followed by a discussion led by a qualified humanities scholar. Many libraries also decided to partner with local public media stations, museums, high schools, universities, public officials and community organizations to offer a wide variety of related programs. Their programming ideas and accomplishments are available on the "American Creed" website events calendar.

One of the more ambitious program series was presented by Tracy Dunstan from The Nyack Library in Nyack, N.Y., which has hosted five events so far, with their final program scheduled for August. The library expanded the Community Conversation program to include an essay contest, a film festival and a Civic Saturday celebration. The full lineup of events can be found on their website.

Even if you missed the ALA screening, public libraries can still apply to host a scholar-facilitated Community Conversation funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Micro-grants are available to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis through spring 2020. Details can be found on the Citizen Film website, and the filmmakers welcome emails and phone consultations about the film, how to host an event and programming ideas. For more information, contact Citizen Film’s Aurora Jiminez at

View the trailer for "American Creed" below.