The celebration, to continue through November 5, 2004, will feature a number of significant historical artifacts including one of only 25 existing original copies of the Declaration of Independence as well as photos, video displays and other themed elements that speak to America's unique tradition of citizenship, democracy and the electoral process. Children's book publisher Scholastic will host "Scholastic Democracy for Kids," an interactive installation and educational workshop.
Bank of America, the sponsor of Democracy Plaza, has a legacy that extends back to the founding of the United States of America. "Our company is proud to have played an important role in the development and evolution of the country's banking and financial systems," noted Catherine P. Bessant, Chief Marketing Officer for Bank of America. "In supporting Democracy Plaza, we demonstrate our commitment to the ongoing democratization of opportunities for all Americans, whether they've lived here for centuries or have arrived recently as new immigrants. We're extremely pleased to be playing a key role in this celebration of the democratic process."
Democracy Plaza was conceived by NBC. "We are thrilled to be participating in this project," said Randy Falco, president of NBC Universal Television Networks Group, which is headquartered at Rockefeller Center. "Democracy Plaza will give hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions more watching on television a unique opportunity to learn about our democratic system, to share that heritage with their children, and to celebrate the values of citizenship and democracy that all Americans hold dear."
The Democracy Plaza exhibition, which will involve all of the public spaces of Rockefeller Center, will display historical artifacts and full-scale replicas of items including:
- An original copy of the Declaration of Independence, printed the evening of July 4, 1776;
- An extensive exhibit of photos, mementos and historical artifacts from five noteworthy presidential elections beginning with George Washington (curated by American History Workshop founder and President, Richard Rabinowitz);
- A Teddy Roosevelt "whistle-stop" era replica railroad car;
- Examples of many voting-booth technologies now used in the United States;
- A full-scale replica of the Oval Office;
- A full-scale replica of an Air Force One fuselage (Boeing 707 version);
- A Debate Theater focusing on the Presidential elections since 1960, drawing from the broadcast archives of NBC Universal and featuring great moments from the televised Presidential debates, election night coverage and notable excerpts from inaugural addresses;
- Interactive exhibits promoting voter registration and other takeaway value for citizens;
- Items from the historical archives of Bank of America which has the nation's largest retail banking franchise- documenting more than 200 years of the nation's economic history.
Scholastic, the global children's publishing and media company, is the education partner of Democracy Plaza and is presenting Scholastic Democracy for Kids, an interactive experience designed to help children understand their rights and responsibilities in a democracy through various shared activities such as a giant "living" flag, whose stripes will be comprised of a collection of children's letters addressed to the next President. Children also will be able cast a ballot for their Presidential choice in a special Scholastic Election Poll. In addition, children of all ages will enjoy learning more about the democratic process with lessons taught by popular Scholastic characters such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, and they can take home creative activities, posters, books and other great giveaways.
"A central part of Scholastic's mission is to provide children with the information they need to become good citizens a mission we have carried out for more than 80 years principally through our classroom magazines and books," said Dick Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO, Scholastic. "We are honored and excited to be part of Democracy Plaza which will help inform our country's youth tomorrow's voters about our nation's core principles of democracy, freedom and citizenship."
Large video screens and a 60-foot media tower will feature programming themed to Democracy Plaza, including "We the People," a video exploration of the preamble to the Constitution and a series of brief "Democracy Did It" vignettes saluting the accomplishments of individual citizens. The vignettes will also air locally in New York City on WNBC and WNJU.
The activities on Democracy Plaza will reach their peak on election night, when the networks and stations of NBC Universal will broadcast election coverage live from the plaza from booths and platforms overlooking the ice rink. In addition, a wide array of NBC Universal's properties will use Democracy Plaza as a backdrop for extensive broadcasting in the run-up to election day, including: NBC News ("Today," "Nightly News", and "Meet the Press"), MSNBC, MSNBC.com, CNBC, Telemundo, WNBC, WNJU, the owned and affiliated stations of NBC and Telemundo, NBC News Radio and NBC Mobile.