NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students had the opportunity to learn about the document that created a new government 200 years ago when the University paused September 17 to commemorate the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.
Gathering in Kean Hall, more than 1,000 students listened to readings on the day set aside every year to commemorate the creation and signing of the supreme law of the land, and to honor and celebrate the privileges and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship for both native-born and naturalized citizens.
Lauren Thomas, vice president of the Student Government Association, gave a brief recap of the history of the significance of the day and events that led to the signing of the Constitution.
“You are probably asking yourself questions such as what is Constitution Day and why do we celebrate it,” she told those in attendance. “It’s because in the summer of 1787, delegates convened in Philadelphia to create “a more perfect union” and to craft the country’s constitution. They worked to develop a framework that would provide balance and freedom, taking into account federal and state interests, as well as individual human rights.”
She went on to explain about the push for a national celebration to mark the historic signing, such as “I am an American Day,” created by Congress in 1940, and the presidential proclamation in 1956 to make September 17-23 of each year as “Constitution Week.”
“I hope people take away an understanding that the Constitution is not just a piece of history, but it’s this living document which, despite its birth over 200 years ago, still plays an integral role in our everyday lives,” said the Mass Communications major. “As we move forward as a country we need to have a deeper and stronger understanding of that historic document.”
The event was also a time not only for students to reflect on the significance of the signing of the document, but one for the entire University to take a moment and reflect on the importance of knowing all of the different rights afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution, said Dr. John Cade, interim vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Support Services.
“Recognition of Constitution Day serves an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to celebrate and appreciate, why we celebrate this momentous day in the history of the United States of American,” Cade said.
This event was part of Constitution Day, which is celebrated annually on September 17—the day the United States Constitution was signed in 1787, officially establishing the government of the United States.
In late 2004, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W. Virginia) passed legislation requiring that all schools, colleges and agencies receiving Federal funds offer annual educational programming involving the Constitution of the United States on Constitution Day, September 17, the anniversary of the day the framers signed the document.
Constitution Day is observed by spotlighting historic events, influential people and the document itself. The purpose of this event was to encourage the TSU community to continue learning and appreciating the living document.
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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.