Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

California on the Ballot

About California on the Ballot

In the political experiment that is the American republic, California may be the most visible laboratory. Our state’s variety of cultures, languages, and opinions yields a nearly infinite variety of possibilities for civic engagement. From writing poetry to running for office, from voter drives to direct actions, residents of the Golden State constantly seek new opportunities to forge a more just society—and will continue to do so as our electorate continues to diversify in the future.

“The ‘California Dream’ is capacious,” Dr. William Deverell observed during California Dreamin’. “It can absorb hopes and wishes beyond the conventional Gold Rush dreaming that we tend to caricature. [It] can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.”

Through California on the Ballot, a series of virtual events, we reflect on what civic engagement currently looks like in California, examine its roots, and ask what changes might soon be in store. In 12 statewide programs since the elections of 2020, we have heard the perspectives of historians, artists, journalists, civil servants, and archivists through panel discussions, interviews, displays of historical artifacts, film clips, and Q&A sessions with viewers.

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California on the Ballot Season 1 schedule example
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California on the Ballot Experiences

Multiple hands in various colors hold papers. Behind them is an outline of the state of California.

California on the Ballot: Highlights from Season One      

Our theme for California on the Ballot: Season One (October 2020-April 2021) is barriers to voting – what obstacles have defined the voter experience in California history? How has California worked to increase voter access? What work is left to do? We’ll talk with groups whose relationship to the ballot has a complicated history, including DACA recipients, incarcerated citizens, and Indigenous communities across California.  

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