Over the past decade there has been a heightened awareness of the importance of colleges and universities being engaged in communities. Civic engagement is based on the premise that all citizens can contribute to improving society. People can work individually or collectively on issues of public concern to promote quality of life. The University of Maryland is considered one of the national leaders in civic engagement programming among institutions of higher learning and the Department of Anthropology is playing a an important role in this effort. A general description of the department's engaged programs follows as well as a more detailed synopsis of how using examples from a difficult past can help spur change in communities today.