Middle Tennessee State University is ready to set off a few fireworks of civic inspiration and information with its week of special events Sept. 13-17 marking the 234th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.
The university will kick off its celebration with a public, in-person campuswide discussion, “State Legislatures Shaping the Nation: Tennessee Law and National Civic Culture,” set for 3 p.m. Central on Monday, Sept. 13, in MTSU’s Tucker Theatre and online at https://mtsu.edu/live.
At the Sept. 13 panel event, Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes, director of MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center, will moderate the discussion with:
• Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.
• Shana Singh Hughey, president of ThinkTennessee, a nonpartisan organization promoting civic engagement and economic opportunity for all Tennesseans.
• Justin Owen, president and CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a nonprofit organization promoting free markets, individual liberty and limited government in the state.
“During Constitution Week at MTSU, we always study and celebrate the 1787 U.S. Constitution, but this year we’re also talking about state and federal legislative agendas and how, together, when in concert, they can advance American society, but how, when in opposition, they add to the national divide,” said Dr. Mary A. Evins, a research professor in the Department of History and coordinator of the MTSU chapter of the American Democracy Project, organizer of the annual event.
“The heads of some of Tennessee’s most influential statewide nonprofit organizations, who interact regularly with the Tennessee General Assembly, will be at MTSU on Sept. 13 to discuss Tennessee’s voice in the national dialogue. Any questions for the panelists are welcome in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Tucker Theatre is located inside MTSU’s Boutwell Dramatic Arts Auditorium at 615 Champion Way. For more information on the event, visit https://mtsu.edu/amerdem/Const_Day.php.
The university’s traditional outdoor campus and community readings of the historic American document will be a bit different this year. For 2021, readings will be held over three days instead of on a single day.
The 75-minute-long public Constitution readings, in which students, faculty, staff, alumni and campus visitors are encouraged to participate, begin on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 9 a.m. outside MTSU’s Science Building, 440 Friendship St., and 11:30 a.m. at the College of Education Building, 1756 MTSU Blvd.
After those Tuesday morning readings, at 1:30 p.m. Central, MTSU will present “America’s Amendments,” a Zoom conversation about the Bill of Rights in the 21st-century United States, featuring Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center at MTSU, and David Hudson, professor at Nashville’s Belmont University College of Law.
The Sept. 14 Free Speech Center online discussion requires registration, which is free, to view. More information and a registration link are available here.
Constitution readings continue on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 15 and 16.
The Sept. 15 session begins at 12:45 p.m. at the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building, 1737 Blue Raider Drive.
The Sept. 16 readings are set for 9:45 a.m. at the new Academic Classroom Building, 1756 MTSU Blvd.; 11:30 a.m. at the Business and Aerospace Building, 1642 MTSU Blvd; and 1 p.m. at the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building, 1735 Blue Raider Drive.
More details on the public Constitution readings, which are conducted by MTSU’s eight colleges, the Student Government Association, MTSU Athletics, the Political Economy Research Institute in the Jones College of Business, and the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies in the College of Media and Entertainment, also are available at https://mtsu.edu/amerdem/Const_Day.php.
And on Constitution Day, Friday, Sept. 17, the public can see, touch and read rare Constitution-related historic documents and texts — including an 1802 second edition of “The Federalist” by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay and an early 16th-century printing of the Magna Carta — at MTSU’s James E. Walker Library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Presented by the Political Economy Research Institute and the University Honors College and sponsored by retired Tennessee Senior Judge J.S. “Steve” Daniel and MTSU business law professor Lara Womack Daniel, the “Federalists, Feminists, and Founders: Rare Texts Exhibition at MTSU” in the library’s fourth-floor Buchanan Reading Room is part of the Remnant Trust collection at Texas Tech University.
The library is located at 1611 Alumni Drive. More information on the historic documents exhibit is available here, including details for campus and community members who’d like to arrange special access to the display before Sept. 17.
All MTSU’s Constitution Week events are open to the public and free. Masks and appropriate distancing will be required inside all university buildings.
A campus parking map is available here. Off-campus visitors can obtain a one-day permit at https://mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php, park in the university’s Rutherford Boulevard Lot, and ride the Raider Xpress shuttle to their events’ locations.
Voter registration also will be offered all week, and every week, online at https://mtsu.edu/vote.
“Constitution Week is the perfect time to register to vote, or to re-register where you now reside,” Evins added, noting that September is National Voter Registration Month.
MTSU also will participate on Saturday, Oct. 2, in a statewide voter registration drive being called the “Tennessee Voter Registration Tailgates.”
Election officials will be available before football games at each of the state’s nine Division 1 public universities to help citizens register or update their information online at the Tennessee Secretary of State’s voting website, https://GoVoteTN.gov.
The effort begins Saturday, Sept. 11, at Tennessee Tech University, East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Martin and will continue each Saturday at a different university through Oct. 2.
For more information about the American Democracy Project at MTSU, email email@example.com or visit https://mtsu.edu/amerdem.
— Gina E. Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org)