We the people, plus Henry Clay, unite for UK Constitution Day



As the founding fathers of pop once said, “You gotta fight for your right to party.”

As we emerge out of the clouds of the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11, we are now lunging forward to the 224th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution signing that took place on Sept. 17, 1787.

That means Constitution Day at UK is gearing up, thanks to a congressional mandate: any federally funded institution must provide civic education on Sept. 17 unless it falls on a Saturday, like this year, a Sunday or a holiday.

We the people, plus the spirit of Henry Clay, are going to gather from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, on the north lawn of the Main Building at the University of Kentucky to celebrate UK’s seventh-annual commemoration of the national holiday.

The goal of this gathering is to inform good citizens about the U.S. Constitution, allow school children to educate us about the legislative process and have the time of our lives in the pursuit of happiness.

The founding fathers created a document with seven articles; OK, now name me one.

We’re at war, so what can a president do or not do? Hint: Read Article II. You get the idea.

Last year, a freshman Discovery Seminar Program class, like the one I’m taking now, launched a project to help school children draft a civic education bill and lobby for it in Frankfort.

At this year’s Constitution Day, middle school, high school and college students will reconvene to update citizens on their draft bill, the Henry Clay-Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act for Kentucky, which will be formally introduced with bipartisan support in October.

But, the kids need your help. Please come to offer your ideas about what should or should not be included in the bill, which would change the way social studies, previously called civics, is taught in Kentucky.

My class is organizing games on the U.S. Constitution, like being quizzed by the Quiz Master. The kids will listen to influential speakers, including candidates for Kentucky governor and Secretary of State, enjoy entertainment, and, of course, win prizes.

Last year the kids learned that the Schoolhouse Rock video “I’m Just a Bill” is great, but it’s just not how the legislative process really works: no lobbyists. This year the kids can teach you a thing or two about how Frankfort really works.

At the same time citizens young and old will hear debates, see politicians in action, have a chance to register to vote and read a voters guide that my class is preparing to help the people of the Commonwealth prepare to vote on election day, Nov. 8.

The only thing we have to fear is not having fun. We’ll have free food for special guests, entertainment, music by an outstanding high school choral program and much more.

Even Henry Clay would be jealous.

Who knows what might happen? This could be the start of a new political party inspired by the Beastie Boys.