ACLU Celebrates Constitution Day in Hundreds of Classrooms Across the County

The ACLU Celebrates Ten Years of Inspiring Young People about Rights, Responsibilities

SAN DIEGO – Constitution Day 2016 is being celebrated today by school children across the country, with a particularly vibrant program here in San Diego.

Now in its tenth year, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties recruits hundreds of volunteer attorneys, elected officials and civic leaders to visit classrooms throughout the region to present the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The coordinated program is designed to highlight the brilliance, complexity and wisdom of this nation’s foundational documents.

Volunteers are encouraged to develop their own nonpartisan presentations and to engage students in lively discussion.  The San Diego ACLU founded this program, now replicated by ACLU affiliates across the country.

“This year, we are proud and privileged to bring together 300 volunteer lawyers and civic leaders to engage with thousands of students in more than 40 schools for our tenth annual program celebrating the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights”, said San Diego ACLU executive director, Norma Chavez-Peterson.  “Not only because we’ve successfully grown this effort from a pilot project to a robust, meaningful event and model for ACLU affiliates nationwide; but also because important constitutional issues are being raised in our communities every day. From issues of freedom of speech like quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s acts of symbolic protest; to issues of freedom of religion, like the notion of banning Muslim immigrants; to equal protection issues like racial profiling and discrimination against women, the LGBT community, Syrian refugees and other vulnerable people.”

The San Diego ACLU developed its “Celebrate the Constitution” program in response to a 2004 congressional mandate that all schools receiving federal funds provide educational programming on the Constitution on September 17.

Beginning in 2007 and every year thereafter, the ACLU has recruited lawyers and others to volunteer their time to give multimedia, interactive, nonpartisan presentations about the Constitution and Bill of Rights to middle and high school students. Speakers this year include prosecutors from offices of the U.S. Attorney, the California Attorney General, and the San Diego District Attorney; defense attorneys from offices of the Public Defender and Federal Defenders and the California Innocence Project; and attorneys from the city’s top law firms, including the ACLU’s Constitution Day 2016 sponsoring firm: Cooley LLP.

“I’m thrilled to visit a third grade classroom at El Toyon Elementary School,” said National City Councilmember, Alejandra Sotelo-Solis.  “This is a wonderful opportunity for me to connect with and inspire our youngest residents to care about the fundamental values of our country.”

For more information about the history of the San Diego ACLU program, read our blog: Constitution Day in San Diego, A Decade of Celebrating the Bill of Rights & The Constitution.

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