Based on the popular and revolutionary PBS multiplatform documentary project, an inspiring and striking photographic portrait that brilliantly captures the tumultuous, historic year that was 2020, offering an intimate look at the heart and soul of our national life and what it means to be an American today, revealed through the stories of ordinary people from sea to shining sea.
Everyone has a story . . .
In January 2020, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, PBS launched an ambitious national storytelling project, American Portrait, inviting people across the country to participate in a national conversation about what it means to be an American today. The multiplatform experience, including a television series that will air on PBS stations nationwide in January 2021, has created a communal voice through the individual stories of participants—each one a unique stitch in the beautiful, diverse quilt that is America.
A vivid yet nuanced snapshot of who we are, this visually striking companion volume features more than 400 entries and photographs, all which began with an answer to a simple cue:
My American story started when . . .
You don’t know what it’s like to . . .
My greatest challenge is . . .
The tradition I carry on is . . .
I was raised to believe . . .
What keeps me up at night is . . .
I took a risk when . . .
When I step outside my door . . .
Most days I feel . . .
Told by people of all ages, orientations, and walks of life, these unique stories of joy, adversity, love, sacrifice, grief, sharing, triumph, and grace, centered on the themes of family, work, fun, faith, and community, illuminate the struggles, hopes, dreams, and convictions of Americans today. The more we share with our fellow citizens, the more we can see a real, complex, and fascinating representation of our country that is far richer and deeper than headlines and elections tell us. As intriguing, thoughtful, and distinct as the nation it embodies, American Portrait is a photographic manifestation of Walt Whitman’s immortal words, “I am large. I contain multitudes”—and a vital and ultimately hopeful reminder that what we all share is much greater and enduring than what may divide us.