During the years 2017, 2018, and 2019, the State of Alabama will be celebrating its Bicentennial. The reason for the three-year span of time is simple: the Alabama Territory was created out of the larger Mississippi Territory on August 15, 1817, and Alabama became a state on December 14, 1819. The celebration is being divided into topical sections: 2017 is the year for “Discovering Our Places,” 2018 will be the year for “Honoring Our People,” and 2019 will be the year for “Sharing Our Stories.”
Though I’m not directly involved in the Bicentennial, I’ve been pleased to do some on work on the fringes: having led a teacher workshop last April, having observed at the Gathering Year event in Pintlala, and last week having attended a meeting for arts educators at the Archives & History. Later this month, I’ll be the master teacher for the Alabama Humanities Foundation SUPER Teacher institute, Sense of Place: Depictions of Alabama in History and Fiction, and in the fall, another teacher and I are planning another Gathering Year event at our school.
No matter where I’ve been or who I’ve been talking to, the same sentiment has been repeated: this Bicentennial is for all Alabamians. It isn’t about spending three years planning one big party in December 2019 for the state’s 200th birthday. It is about helping people both inside and outside the state to recognize Alabama’s value and significance, its truths (good and bad) and its legacy, its past, its present, and perhaps most importantly, its potential in the future.