Dear Members of the Campus Community,
Each year the university recognizes Constitution Day, which commemorates the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. All colleges and universities that receive federal funds are required to hold an educational program about the U.S. Constitution for students on September 17. This programming can include investigating the legacies of this founding document, which along with the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were the beginning of an ongoing journey to “form a more perfect union.”
At the time the Constitution was written more than 230 years ago, all voices were not represented and membership was narrowly defined, which did not recognize the equality and value of all people. The Constitution recognized and protected slavery, the continued removal of indigenous people, and less than full citizenship for women and others. We are still reckoning with those inequities today. Through legislative amendments and judicial interpretation, the Constitution also has adapted over time to reflect our continual growth as a nation and the needs and evolving demands of the people. Through all these changes and adaptations, it has provided a lasting framework for governing our country.
This year’s observance of Constitution Day coincides with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women’s right to vote, the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which decreed that the right to vote shall not be denied on account of race or color, and an upcoming presidential election.
In recognition of these events, in acknowledgment of our remote environment this fall, and in partnership with the talented staff at Collins Memorial Library, we invite you to engage with a curated collection of resources that focus on voting rights and what they mean in 2020 by visiting our Constitution Day page. This page also provides information about Constitution-related events, and offers campus members an opportunity to share one word describing what the Constitution means to them today. The responses will be included in a campus word cloud and may be used for continuing educational programming on constitutional issues.
We hope you will enjoy and learn from the materials and resources provided for this year’s Constitution Day. We also seek to evolve our recognition of this day, and welcome your feedback and suggestions for how the university might approach future observances of Constitution Day. Please feel free to email Jessica Dedrick in the Office of University Counsel with any ideas.
In the spirit of the 15th and 19th Amendments, we also encourage everyone to register to vote. As Representative John Lewis, who passed away earlier this year, said of voting rights, “My dear friends: Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.”
Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President