Sept. 17 Constitution Day to Focus on Civil Liberties
September 17, 2020 - 08:24 AM
With a presidential election less than two months away, Black Lives Matters protests still going on nationwide, as well as protests questioning the constitutionality of COVID-19 quarantine orders, it seems like a perfect recipe for an electrifying Constitution Day to be held next Thursday, Sept. 17 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Zoom.
“It is important to get students excited about their political power that the constitution grants them,” said Political Science professor Kelly Rivera, who is co-organizing this year’s event. The program is put on by the Political Science and Geography Department, in collaboration with The Associated Students. According to Rivera, the event will “highlight students’ rights, their opportunities for engagement and their ability to influence the system.”
The event can be attended by any student on Zoom at meeting ID 919-5069-9304 or by phone at (669) 900-6833.
Students that attend will be mailed a civic action package after the event that includes a Mt. SAC Get Out the Vote T-Shirt, a pocket U.S. Constitution, as well as material sharing how to register to vote, participate in the census, and how to be a politically active person.
Previously known as “Citizenship Day,” Constitution Day commemorates the September 17, 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution and is an American federal observance. The observance mandates all publicly-funded educational institutions, as well as all federal agencies, provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.
This year, the theme of the event will focus on policing and civil liberties with some focus on the 2020 election.
“Who wins and loses will make big difference,” said Rivera. “It’s not just the presidency at stake, but the makeup of the Senate and House as well.” With the Senate approving Supreme Court nominees, and there likely being some justices retiring in the next four years, “Every branch of the federal government is at stake.”
“The 2020 election will be a watershed moment in U.S. History,” predicted Rivera. “Participation is critical. This election is not just about swing states.”
The virtual event will welcome panelists including Political Science Professor Felix Jollevet, U.S. History Professor April Tellez, Political Science Professor James Stone, U.S and African American History Professor Tsekani Browne, Student Equity and Outreach Librarian Eva Rios-Alvarado, Administration of Justice Professor Lance Heard, and Student Activities Coordinator Giovanni Rodriguez (who is also a co-organizer for this year’s event). Meanwhile, Rivera will host the event and give a brief opening overview.
“We are leveraging our college’s own scholarship in order to bring topics of interest to the student body,” said Rivera.
Each panelist will give a 10-12 minute talk related to the theme of policing and civil liberties. Following this, a five-student panel will take place. The event will end with a question and answer session.
It is critical for people to help democracy by understanding the rules and the system in which they live,” concluded Rivera. “Otherwise, they become vulnerable to manipulation.”
For those wanting to learn more, the non-profit National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has a lot of free educational content and historical pieces on their website, including their own events to celebrate the day. Visit their website here.