Dear Friends,

All eyes are on Pennsylvania. As we await the outcome of the election, PHILADELPHIA250 writes to reaffirm our commitments and our values.

PHILADELPHIA250 remains steadfast in our commitment to building a more equitable, just, sustainable and resilient city for all our people — particularly for those who have never been fully extended the rights and privileges of our country’s founding promises made in the Declaration of Independence. We are dedicated to partnering with Philadelphians of all backgrounds and in every neighborhood to close the gap between the promises made in 1776 and the challenging lived reality of too many.

As an organization that serves to mark the 250th anniversary of the Declaration in 2026, the PHILADELPHIA250 team is also taking this opportunity to reflect on the fact that we are witnessing democracy in action, as messy as it may seem right now. During this election, Americans across the country talked to our families, our neighbors, our friends, and strangers about the future we want for our country. Then we raised our voices and cast our votes.

Over the last several days, we have turned again to the words of Hassan Bennett, a friend of PHILADELPHIA250 and a client advocate for the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and Dr. Danielle Allen, a scholar whose reading of the Declaration inspires our work. They remind us in these times of uncertainty that our founding documents remain a source of hope, a call to action, and the foundation of our shared understanding of what it means to be an American. Today, we want to share some of their insights with you.

Mr. Bennett knows well the value of patience, what it means to fight against injustice no matter the odds, and how to draw strength from struggle. As he spent 13 long and unfair years in prison accused of a murder he did not commit, he used the values and principles of our founding documents to represent himself and fight for his eventual acquittal.

In a conversation for PHILADELPHIA250 with Dr. Allen, Mr. Bennett shared these thoughts:

“If the Declaration of Independence was understood by all people, it definitely would make a change in society today because every change that has been instituted in the United States of America has been drawn back to the Declaration of Independence. Those change catalysts always looked at the Declaration of Independence to argue for freedom, to argue different amendments, to argue rights that each individual should have.“

- Hassan Bennett

That conversion is the hard, crucial work of democracy. As Dr. Allen writes in Our Declaration, democratic government is the instrument that citizens should use to “hold the massive shared, even if acrimonious, conversation in which we figure out how to relate our prospects for happiness to those of others.” PHILADELPHIA250 is committed to advancing these difficult conversations.

As we move towards 2026, our work and the dialogue we will advance are grounded in four values also inspired by the Declaration. The news of the last few days shows that the road ahead requires #RevolutionaryActions; lifting up all of our #PeoplesHistories; hard work to build #SharedProsperity for all; and a celebration of our individual and collective right to the #PursuitOfHappiness.

It is fitting that over the last few days the world’s attention has turned to Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy. In 2026, all eyes will again be on us as we commemorate the 250th anniversary of American independence. PHILADELPHIA250 knows that our city has a unique and special responsibility to use that moment to continue the work of democracy — building a shared vision for a better future for all of us. So stay tuned and join us as we write the next chapter of the American story.

Sincerely,

Danielle DiLeo Kim

Executive Director

Coordinating the United States’ 250th anniversary in Philadelphia. Creating a commemoration that is truly by the people, for the people.