Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like

artistic rendering of organizers

Welcome to Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like—a digital space where you can meet undocumented organizers and learn firsthand what democracy looks like to them.

Taking a cue from the popular protest call-and-response—"Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!"—this site explores what democracy looks like from the perspectives of five organizers working in today's undocumented movement. Through their stories, these organizers invite us to look beyond the headlines and the issues often associated with undocumented immigrants, from DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to the DREAMers. In the process, they stretch our imagination by offering fresh approaches to familiar topics such as community, citizenship, belonging, and even identity itself.

You can engage with Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like in multiple ways. Meet five organizers by watching their testimonials alongside educational resources that connect their stories to past social movements. Listen as organizers and historians debate what the history of the undocumented movement will look like. Learn more about the project and the museum's Undocumented Organizing Collecting Initiative.



Survival, Compassion, and Connection: Jung Woo Kim on Organizing through Mutual Aid

Jung Woo KimJung Woo Kim talks about his work organizing mutual aid for the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) during the COVID crisis.


A Dream Upended: Moises Serrano on the Aftermath of 9/11

Moises SerranoMoises Serrano describes how anti-immigrant sentiments and policies put in place after 9/11 shattered his immigrant dreams of belonging. To Moises, these new law enforcement policies defined immigrants as a threat to the nation.


More than a DREAMer: Esther Jeon on the Problem of Citizenship

Esther JeonEsther Jeon fits into the DREAMer narrative—a college grad, a good student, and a person who speaks English without an accent. But Esther tells us that this is not enough. In fact, it’s dangerous.


What's in an identity?: Denea Joseph on the Practice of Intersectional Organizing

Denea JosephDenea Joseph organizes on behalf of the 619,000 Black undocumented immigrants ignored or overlooked in government policies and media portrayals of the movement. 


Communities in Danger: Mayra Stefania Arteaga on the Criminalization of Immigration

Mayra Stefania ArteagaMayra Stefania Arteaga works to protect residents of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, from deportation. She questions national policies that permit local sheriffs to enter into agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mayra Stefania feels that this policy criminalizes immigration.


History in Real Time: Undocumented Organizing

Watch a program that bought together museum professionals and undocumented organizers to discuss what a history of the undocumented movement might look like—and who should be its authors.

This program, held on February 21, 2021, is part of the museum’s ongoing efforts to explore how people and movements—from emancipation to suffrage to civil rights—make change in our democracy. Through past, current, and future exhibitions and programs, we draw on the perspectives of a variety of policymakers, thought leaders, politicians, and change-makers to continue to explore the complicated history of who gets to be an American.


Why now?

The Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like series is part of the museum's Undocumented Organizing Collecting Initiative.