With planning for America250 underway, get to know the people behind the scenes with our spotlight series. We’ll be asking commissioners and staff about their passions, plans, and hopes for the future.
Meet Director of Public Outreach and Inclusion Dr. Carleen Carey, an educator and African American studies specialist working to ensure America250 promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion for all.
A250: If you could have dinner with any person from U.S. history, dead or alive, who would it be? Why? What would you ask?
Fannie Lou Hamer. Many communities are still struggling with food insecurity across America and her Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC) is a testament to the power of organizing communities to achieve food sovereignty. The FFC legacy of Black agrarianism is a key component to political justice. I’ve always been inspired by the legacy of Black Americans living off the land, like the Gullah/Geechee, and living out the gifts of our heritage, like the quilting artist of Gee’s Bend.
A250: What is your favorite moment in American history?
When Aretha Franklin sang “America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)” at former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
A250: What is a unique viewpoint from your home state that you’re excited to bring to this nationwide project?
Richmond, Virginia was the headquarters of the Confederacy, and those roots run deep throughout the state despite not being the “Deep South.” Also, Virginia hams are the key ingredient to every Thanksgiving menu.
A250: What does America250 and this moment mean to you?
America250 means that it is time to take action on the unheard histories of Americans and to push our country to achieve its goal of a more perfect union.
A250: What are you currently working on that can be shared with us?
We’re working on a diversity, equity, and inclusion toolkit that we hope will help every American to start conversations around building better bridges between people, places, and history. In effect, we want to support all folks in building better communities and bringing in those who have had their chapters left out of the narrative of American history.
A250: What’s something your coworkers don’t know about you?
I love making jam! I enjoy visiting pick-our-own orchards and farm stands with my family and creating preserves from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving in the summers.
A250: Give us three fun facts about yourself.
Busboys and Poets is my favorite bookstore outside of the Strand Bookstore.
My favorite color is purple, but anything that has glitter, sequins, or rainbows catches my eye.
I prefer glamping through the summer and fall; it’s a sweet upgrade from tent camping during my Girl Scout days.