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How to Build a More Civilized Society, One Interaction at a Time

Is civility a lost art? Now more than ever, a refresher course on basic social graces seems abundantly needed. According to former political appointee, speaker and author Shelby Scarbrough, the core values of civility are trust, respect, courtesy, dignity, honor and humility. Scarbrough began her career in the White House Office of Presidential Advance, then became a protocol officer at the U.S. Department of State. Her latest book, Civility Rules!: Creating A Purposeful Practice Of Civility,shares how every citizen can embody these values to help build a more civilized society.  

“While our civilization continues to advance, our capacity to live civilly―to appreciate our common humanity with empathy and humility―ironically dwindles daily,” Scarbrough says. “Even as we become more technologically connected, many of us feel increasingly disconnected and disengaged from each other.”

Scarbrough’s experiences in both public service and the private sector have given her a unique insight into the practices that lead to positive relationships and productive communication between individuals, countries and societies. Civility Rules! gives readers an opportunity to learn about the history, substance and significance of civility through the lens of George Washington’s “Rules of Civility,” a collection of 110 maxims that helped shape our country’s first president.

Scarbrough also draws upon personal experiences, real-life examples and a foundational belief that civility is integral to a democratic society; every citizen can make a difference by building a personal practice of civility. 

“Civility is not an archaic concept of manners and politeness but rather a crucial component of a functioning democracy,” she emphasizes.

Scarbrough shows us how―with conscientious practice and patience―we can each contribute to the preservation of our democracy, one interaction at a time.

Throughout her career, Scarbrough worked with such notable figures as Pope John Paul II; Presidents Reagan, Bush, Ford, Carter and Nixon; President Lech Walesa of Poland; Queen Elizabeth and members of the Royal Family; Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; and President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. As a member of Pres. Ronald Reagan’s advance team, she helped coordinate such landmark events as the Reagan-Gorbachev Moscow Summit, and was asked to serve as Deputy Lead in Washington, D.C., for President Reagan’s funeral. In 1990, Scarbrough founded Practical Protocol, LLC, a consulting and event-management firm that provides solutions for individuals, corporations and government clients in need of national and international diplomatic and business protocol services. 

She now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is an international speaker, entrepreneur and writer. For more information, please visit

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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