COVINGTON, Ga.—For Barbara Robertson, Sept. 17, 1787, is no dusty date. Because it marks the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia, Pa., the date references a document that affects every American every day.
That’s why months before each September, the Georgia State University Newton Campus political science instructor can be found planning programming to commemorate the historic document.
“So much can be traced back to the Constitution, directly, or indirectly,” said Robertson, who teaches American Government at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College and often sprinkles constitutional trivia questions throughout her lectures.
One of her favorites that often stumps the class? “How many constitutional amendments are there?” (The answer: 27.)
“A lot of people don’t realize how little that is over some 200 years and how hard it is to amend the Constitution,” she said.
It’s not like it hasn’t been tried. Approximately 11,770 measures have been proposed to amend the Constitution from 1789 through Jan. 3, 2019, she said.
It was the U.S. Congress who decided the ratification date should carry an educational component, Robertson said.
Originally called Citizenship Day, the name was changed to Constitution Day in 2004 by Congress, which also required that every educational institution that receives federal funding should have a program commemorating the Constitution every year on or around Sept. 17 to promote civic education.
Robertson, her political science colleagues and student groups across Perimeter College have planned programs to mark this year’s Constitution Day, with speakers, voter registration and other activities celebrating the country’s abiding legal document.
A list of the events is below. All are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Robertson at [email protected]
Monday, Sept. 16: 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Clarkston Campus History and Politics Club hosts “Not in the Constitution: The Powerful Role of City Government,” with city of Tucker Mayor Frank Auman, CN-2240, 555 N. Indian Creek Dr., Clarkston, Ga.
Tuesday, Sept. 17: 10-11 a.m., “Fighting Gerrymandering,” Fair District Georgia; 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., “Immigration Issues and Policy,” Danielle Claffey of Kuck-Baxter legal firm; 1-2:15 p.m., “Local Civic Efforts,” Common Cause Georgia.
Wednesday, Sept. 18: 10-11 a.m., “The 2020 Presidential Election,” Barbara Robertson, Georgia State University Newton Campus political science instructor; 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., “Politics in Films,” Daniel Franklin, Georgia State University professor emeritus; 1-2:15 p.m., “The Long History of Fighting Reconstruction Amendments” Joe Bagley, Georgia State University Newton Campus assistant professor of history.
All activities for the two-day Newton Campus Constitution Day event are in the lobby and auditorium, Building 2N, 239 Cedar Lane in Covington, Ga.
Wednesday, Sept. 18: 2:30 p.m., “Should America Pay? A Brief History of the Fight for Reparations in the United States,” presented by Akinyele Umoja, Georgia State University professor of African-American Studies, Building SF 2100/2100, 3251 Panthersville Road, Decatur, Ga.
Wednesday, Sept. 18: 12-1 p.m., Dunwoody Campus History and Politics Club hosts “Know Your Rights” forum, Amith Gupta, Project South. NC1100, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga.
Thursday, Sept. 19: 1-2:15 p.m., “Higher Education’s Role in a ‘More Perfect Union’: An Overview of Current Constitutional Issues Facing Institutions of Higher Education,” with Bharath Parthasarathy, Georgia State University’s deputy general counsel in the Office of Legal Affairs. Room B-105. Alpharetta Campus, 3705 Brookside Parkway, Alpharetta, Ga.