Retrospect – Celebrating Sunshine Week During the COVID-19 Crisis

As a nation, we have celebrated the week of James Madison’s birthday (March 16) as Sunshine Week for 15 years. Throughout the week, news outlets and open government advocacy groups issue articles and reports on the public’s right to know what its government is doing. Meetings scheduled during Sunshine Week allow journalists, educators, librarians, civic groups, and government officials to debate and extol open government and freedom of information.

Why James Madison, you ask? Our fourth president, known as the Father of the Constitution, was a fierce advocate of open government. Per President Ronald Reagan’s Freedom of Information Day proclamation in 1986, Madison “understood the value of information in a democratic society, as well as the importance of its free and open dissemination. He believed that through the interaction of the Government and its citizens, facilitated by a free press and open access to information, the Government could be most responsive to the people it serves.”

In step with the advised COVID-19 precautions, some groups shifted Sunshine Week celebrations to virtual events (e.g., webinars); others promised that planned in-person meetings would be rescheduled for a later date. As many of the resource sites were collected in preparation for the annual weeklong initiative, it’s worth mentioning them. So here goes. Read more…