Friday, May 20, 2022

Democracy on the move

RCBC hosts a Smithsonian museum’s exhibit on history

Rowan at Burlington County is one of six community colleges in New Jersey where the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” has landed. At the kickoff last month were Dr. Michael A. Cioce (left to right), Rowan College at Burlington County president; Congressman Andy Kim and Rowan student Noah Lepek.

A traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian National Museum of History in Washington, D.C., is now at Rowan College at Burlington County.

“Voices and Votes: Democracy in America,” arrived last month and will remain open to the public through Thursday at the campus Student Success Center.

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“When folks come to us and say, ‘Can you host something?’, if it can check those boxes, we’re going to say yes. If it’s going to provide educational opportunities to residents of Burlington County, we’re going to say yes,” said college President Dr. Michael A. Cioce.

The exhibition was created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) to offer learning opportunities for all ages. It includes historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival videos; and historical objects such as  campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia and protest material.

“The exhibit gives you a crash course in the entirety of the Revolutionary War to the present day,” Cioce explained. “This is an exhibit that doesn’t cater to only one subset of the population.”

According to the school, “Voices and Votes” is part of the Museum on Main Street in the nation’s capital, a collaboration between the Smithsonian and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The exhibit got to campus as a result of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, which also co-hosted its kickoff event at Rowan on April 5 as part of the council’s 50th anniversary celebration. Congressman Andy Kim also stopped by to see the exhibit.

“It was win, win, win to have something that activated the campus in the way this exhibit did,” Cioce said

The exhibit will travel through next January to six community colleges in New Jersey. Cioce noted that choosing Rowan as one site coincided with programming integration at Rowan, including political science courses, a presentation on women’s suffrage and an April 1 naturalization ceremony at the Mt. Laurel campus where 50 candidates from 26 countries earned citizenship.

Cioce believes the exhibit will continue to make an impact even when it moves on to the other colleges.

“We are sort of on the ground with all the stuff that’s happening from a social justice, from an equity, from a diversity lens and democracy happens here,” he said.  “When you look at the thousands of students that enroll not just at RCBC but in the community college sector statewide, this is where democracy happens.”

The exhibit is open today and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit https://rcbc.edu/smithsonian

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