As schools across the nation implement distance learning, ACLU volunteers have produced dozens of educational videos bringing the U.S. Constitution to life for thousands of students on the anniversary of its signing.
SAN DIEGO – This Constitution Day, Thursday, Sept. 17, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) will again present its popular Celebrate the Constitution! program.
Since 2007, this program has matched volunteer speakers with host teachers and students in their classrooms. After 13 years, the program has engaged more than 125,000 middle and high school students locally and is a model for ACLU affiliates nationwide.
The COVID-19 crisis prompted a reimagination of Celebrate the Constitution! as a scalable, digital initiative. Rather than making a limited number of local in-classroom presentations on Constitution Day, ACLU volunteers have self-produced dozens of educational videos that, together with a variety of other ACLU-created and curated materials, are freely accessible at www.CelebrateTheConstitution.org, which launched today.
Among those who have contributed videos are retired Third Circuit Court Judge H. Lee Sarokin and retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Jim Stiven, both of whom helped ACLUF-SDIC develop the first Constitution Day program in 2007; Edward O’Byrn, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at Carleton College, on behalf of the ACLU Foundation of Minnesota; and ACLUF-SDIC Communications Director, Cheryl Alethia Phelps, whose video presentation addresses “the single most significant word in the U.S. Constitution.”
This Constitution Day, people everywhere will be able to view videos and other content featuring a broad spectrum of perspectives about our nation’s founding document and its relevance today. And, under the guidance of their teachers, students will be able to upload their own videos to share their insights and ideas with peers for the entire 2020/2021 academic year. More than 3,600 local students are expected to visit the site this Thursday.
“With the impacts of COVID-19, widespread civil unrest, and serious threats to people’s right to vote raising awareness of deeply rooted inequities in our society, understanding the Constitution’s role in securing our precious civil rights and freedoms has never been more important,” said ACLUF-SDIC Executive Director, Norma Chávez-Peterson. “We’re proud to present this wonderfully reimagined initiative to challenge students to think deeply about the nation’s core values and to dare to create a more perfect Union in which ‘We the People’ means everyone.”
Resources on the Celebrate the Constitution! site
This ACLU-curated site is intended to spark discussions and learning from a diversity of perspectives about our nation’s foundational document. The site offers the opportunity for people to share self-created videos about the relevance of the U.S. Constitution from historical and personal perspectives, while educating themselves about others’ relationship to this document. Everyone is invited to visit the site and learn more about the Constitution by exploring its many educational resources. These include:
Short, nonpartisan videos created and contributed by dozens of volunteers
Non-partisan information about the U.S. Constitution and key amendments
Lesson plans and learning materials for educators and students
Recommended outline, guiding questions and best practices to self-create videos
About Constitution Day
September 17 is “Constitution Day” – established in 2004 by the U.S. Congress to commemorate the signing of the Constitution in 1787 and to recognize the importance of our nation’s founding document. By law, federally funded schools are required to provide educational programming about the United States Constitution on the anniversary of its signing. The ACLUF-SDIC’s Celebrate the Constitution! program was developed in 2007 to help schools meet this requirement.