Dr. Ben Withers has offered to the Provost that the Division of Undergraduate Education (UGE) will lead a cross-campus gathering of support for this fall’s U.S. Constitution Day activities this year on September 17th. We’d like to work with many different organizations and units on campus to develop a campus-wide approach.
There are several organizations that have already begun to work on how they will contribute to Constitution Day this year. For example, the staff in the Martin Luther King Jr. Center is planning a Soup & Substance for that day to focus on the Common Reading Experience book: Picking Cotton.
|Soup & Substance: Real Talk, Real Issues, & Real People Series
A series that provides current topics and discussion relating to race, gender, class, and a variety of identities.
The Common Reading Experience book this year discusses issues of sexual assault, race in the criminal justice system, eyewitness testimony, and mistaken identity. Whether you’ve read the book or not, you do not want to miss this stimulating discussion!
“Picking Cotton” in Context: A Discussion on Issues from the Common Reading Experience book, Picking Cotton
Thursday, September 17, 5:30 p.m.
This would be a fabulous addition to the list of events focusing on concepts of citizenship and constitutional rights. And of course, as is traditional now at UK, Buck Ryan and his HON class will be working on their Kentucky Citizenship Project, featuring a speaker series at noon near the Main Building.
I would appreciate knowing if your units or your class would also like to help plan something that day. We have funding from the President’s Office that would be dedicated to the campus-wide involvement of your programming, so let me know if you would like to have some extra money to make your event happen. Please do not hesitate to give me a call if you have any questions.
Here’s some background on Constitution Day: it is a federally mandated program for all publicly funded institutions of higher education – but it can be a great opportunity for a campus-wide discussion about very difficult issues we encounter today. Since the mid-twentieth century, Citizenship Day was celebrated in addition to Independence Day and Presidents Day as a way to observe the adoption of the U.S. Constitution by the American Congress of the Confederation on September 17, 1787. Its origins came from the nation-wide promotion during and after World War I of the “I am an American” Day. By 1949 the governors of all the states had proclaimed their own Citizenship Day celebrations. Congress proclaimed in 1952 that the “I am an American Day” be renamed “Citizenship Day.” In response to a congressional resolution petitioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution for a week of celebration of American citizenship, Constitution Week was officially enacted on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The purpose of the observance week was to promote study and education about the constitution and to celebrate those who have become U.S. citizens. In 2004 a law establishing Constitution Day and Citizenship Day mandated that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American constitution on September 17th. The goal is for “Federal, State, and local officials, as well as leaders of civic, social, and educational organizations, to conduct ceremonies and programs that bring together community members to reflect on the importance of active citizenship, recognize the enduring strength of our Constitution, and reaffirm our commitment to the rights and obligations of citizenship in this great Nation” (http://www2.ed.gov/policy/fund/guid/constitutionday.html). For open access to resources for Constitution Week, see http://archive.opm.gov/constitution_initiative/.
Please let us know here in Undergraduate Education how you would want to celebrate Constitution Day on September 17th here at UK. Contact Randolph Hollingsworth, 551 Patterson Office Tower, 257-3027, firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message via Twitter @rhollingsworth.