Though mostly forgotten today, the Chautauqua democratized America.  For decades, before radio and TV, chatauquas met in tents across the country, bringing artists, writers, and scholars to speak in rural towns and treating all Americans as learners.  Theodore Roosevelt called the Chautauqua movement “the most American thing in America.” 


Chautauqua is gone but its spirit lives on in TED Talks. Here are six great TED Talks about America.

Courtney Martin — “The New American Dream” — “The biggest danger is not failing to achieve the American Dream,  The biggest danger is achieving a dream that you don't actually believe in."

Oskar Eustis — “Why Theater is Essential to Democracy” — “Our job is to try to hold up a vision to America that shows not only who all of us are individually, but that welds us back into the commonality that we need to be.  That's what the theater is supposed to do."


Dalia Mogahed — “What It’s Like to be Muslim in America” — “What do you think when you look at me?  A woman of faith?  An expert? Maybe even a sister?  Or. . . Oppressed.  Brainwashed.  A terrorist.”

Isabelle Wilkerson — “The Great Migration and the Power of a Single Decision” — The award-winning author talks about the great migration of African-Americans from South to North. “These people, by their actions, were able to do what the powers that be, North and South, could not or would not do.  They freed themselves." 

Noah Feldman — Hamilton vs. Madison and the Birth of American Partisanship — Tracing American political divide to the Founding Fathers themselves.


J.D. Vance (Author of Hillbilly Elegy) — “America’s Forgotten Working Class” — a compelling argument for reachign out to children in working class America.


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