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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gives speech at Crystal Bridges

As we approach Election Day, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice visited Crystal Bridges in Bentonville for an evening conversation.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Hundreds of people gathered at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville for the sold-out event for Condoleezza Rice. This was the first high-profile conversation in a series all organized and inspired by the “We The People: The Radical Notion of Democracy” museum exhibit. 

“Democracy is not a spectator sport. And that is the lesson for all of us, which is that these are remarkable institutions that have done extraordinary well. But it’s up to each and every one of us to meet its challenges every day,” Rice explained. 

The exhibit is the first to house rare historic documents such as the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and a draft copy of the Bill of Rights. Dr. Rice spoke about her perspectives on how to create and sustain democracy. 

“It's incredibly important for her to help frame this conversation about the importance of democracy and the importance of strong institutions to sustain what we hold so dearly in this country which is democracy and freedom,” said Marissa Reyes, the chief learning and engagement officer at Crystal Bridges.

Tuesday evening she spoke on various topics throughout the night, but the start of the discussion focused on the future of American democracy. 

“And so I am optimistic about the future of American democracy. But I want to say one thing, it's not self-sustaining,” Rice said.  

The former Secretary of State encourages everyone to participate in the political process.   

“Voting is important and yes, working in campaigns is important. But if each and every one of us, whatever issue is more important to you, you decided 'I’m going to work on that,' I’ll bet 300 million of us doing that, we might actually make progress and not just leave it to the government to do,” Rice said.  

The conversation highlighted Dr. Rice’s beliefs that voting and democracy are privileges.   

“Democracy is the institutionalization of freedom. Democracy cannot exist without freedom. And freedom won’t last very long if it’s not institutionalized. What the founders understood was that human freedom is a great thing. But unless you channel it, in some ways, it can simply be the will of the mob.”   

The next conversation of the series is on Nov. 10 with Carrie Mae Weems and Yo-Yo Ma. The former first lady and U.S. senator Hillary Clinton is slated for November 30.

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