In this essay, Nicole Mirra and Antero Garcia explore how young people from six demographically distinct communities across the United States understand the social and political issues affecting their lives, engage in storytelling and dialogue across differences, and collaboratively imagine humanizing and hopeful civic futures. Drawing from critical race perspectives on democracy and civic education, and with an expansive vision of the nature and purpose of literacy, Mirra and Garcia develop a speculative approach to civic literacy research and practice that centers the voices and concerns of young people, honors differences of identity and expression, and manifests ideological commitments to equity, empathy, and collective struggle to ward off civic disintegration. Findings from their social design-based experiment foreground counterstories in which youth challenge their positioning as not-yet-citizens, create opportunities to engage in civic life on their own terms, and leverage their repertoire of literacy practices to invent new possibilities for inclusive democratic community life.

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