Celebrate Constitution Day on September 21 with two events free
and open to the community.
Constitution Day commemorates the September 17, 1787, signing
of the US Constitution, which is 233 years old this year.
Sponsored by the College
of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of Political Science, events at IUP will begin with the traditional public
reading of the Constitution by members of the IUP community from noon to 1:00 p.m.
in front of Stapleton Library, facing the Oak Grove. IUP President Michael Driscoll will begin
the event with a reading of the Constitution’s Preamble.
Although this will be the
twelfth year that IUP has hosted a public reading of the Constitution, some
things will be a bit different in light of the pandemic. The sidewalk in front of the library where
readers line up will be marked at six-foot intervals to ensure proper social
distancing. For those unable to be on
campus, the event will be live-streamed, and viewers can use Zoom to que in a
virtual line to read a part of the Constitution, along with readers able to
participate in person. Virtual readers
will be interspersed with in-person readers.
As at past public readings,
the first 100 participants will receive a special “We the People at IUP”
t-shirt, as well as a pocket-sized copy
of the Constitution and a star-shaped cookie.
In the case of inclement weather, the public reading will
take place in the lobby of the Humanities and Social Sciences building.
Later in the day, the intentions of the authors of the
US Constitution will be explored in the Six O’Clock Series
presentation: “The Constitution, Pandemics, and Racial Inequity: What Would the
Founders Say?” from 6:00 to
7:30 p.m. on Zoom.
Four of the Constitution’s authors—Ben Franklin, Alexander
Hamilton, Charles Pinckney, and James Madison—will discuss the challenges in
drafting the Constitution and will speculate about what the Founders would
think of today’s politics.
These Framers will be portrayed, respectively, by IUP
political science professors David Chambers and Steven Jackson, by retired
political science faculty Dighton “Mac” Fiddner, and by history professor Joe Mannard. Audience participation and questions are encouraged.
“This year, the Founders get to experience Zoom
technology,” said Gwen Torges, political science faculty member and
coordinator of IUP’s Constitution Day activities. “Government responses to the pandemic bring
up interesting questions about federalism and the Constitution that we’ll ask
the Founders about,” said Torges. “We’re
also going to pose tough questions about the racial discrimination that was
condoned by the Constitution.”
Because this is the one hundredth anniversary
of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which extended voting
rights to women, “We will ask the Framers why universal voting rights weren’t
originally included in the Constitution,” said Torges.
“Democracies don’t work very well if people
don’t understand how the government works. One of the most important things
that we can do is to read and understand our Constitution. Constitution Day
gives us a chance to pause and think about what ‘We the People’ want from our government.