What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

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Los Angeles | Monday, June 25, 2018

Is Being True to Yourself an American Value?

BP Hall at Walt Disney Concert Hall

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others,” Frederick Douglass wrote, “rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” In that statement lies an American paradox: To be considered truly great in this country requires both the acquisition—and simultaneously the rejection—of public adoration. The life and work of singer-songwriter Bill Withers might be testimony to this peculiar reality. Withers was a working man from West Virginia who created …

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