From the early 1970s to the late ‘90s ABC’s SchoolHouse Rock! served as a welcomed teaching moment for school children and their parents across the nation. Covering everything from grammar to government, it was the quintessential educational program in animated form. It's been years since the show graced household screens on Saturday mornings, but there’s a new five-part, animated series that, in many ways, picks up where it left off.
Your Democracy is hosted by constitutional lawyer and professor, Gloria J. Browne-Marshall. The digital series explores the topic of criminal justice, citizenship, immigration, and states' rights, delving into how the U.S. Constitution continues to impact our everyday lives. Producers say that whether viewed by students or adults in search of a contemporary and relevant explanation of our laws, Your Democracy offers scholarly expertise constructed for everyone to grasp.
“We created "Your Democracy" to empower people," says Browne-Marshall, a Professor of Constitutional Law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). "Knowing more about our Constitutional rights is crucial to living in this country."
Browne-Marshall is an expert in the area of constitutional law and perfectly positioned to narrate the series. In her role as professor, she teaches students Constitutional Law, Race and the Law, Evidence, and Gender and Justice. Before entering the world of academia the skilled civil rights attorney litigated cases for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Community Legal Services, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. She’s also spoken on issues of law and justice across the world.
With Browne-Marshall as the voice behind the programming, the series takes what producers call a "Civics 101" style approach to the text. The hope is that the topics covered will leave viewers better informed and better protected. Though the show is for every and anybody, the subjects speak to the current issues many Black people are facing around the nation. With a cultured and nuanced perspective, the series brings a new lens to the world's longest surviving written charter of government.
“Series like Your Democracy allow WHYY to do what we do best: dive deeper into important topics to unveil the nuances and lesser-known facts that complete the story,” says Terri Murray, Chief Content Officer for WHYY. As with other WHYY podcasts and digital series, Your Democracy offers a robust and representative foundation that informs early and lifelong learning,”
Produced by Greater Philadelphia’s PBS/NPR affiliate WHYY and presented by The Sutherland Family Foundation, new episodes of the series can be found at whyy.org and on WHYY’s YouTube channel. To borrow a line from its first episode, Your Democracy serves as a reminder that “We the people have to do our part to keep it going. Our constitution is only as strong as the work we put into it.”