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Compelling Constitutional Conversations


Constitution Day in Philadelphia: Visit the NCC Sept. 18

Sep 07, 2017

- Merissa V. Blum, National Constitution Center, September 6, 2017

This year's speakers and programs for the National Constitution Center's Constitution Day were announced yesterday. 

According to the Center's news release, highlights of the celebration include:

  • A discussion with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on The Vietnam War, their 18-hour documentary which "tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never been told on film."

  • A Supreme Court panel discussion highlighting active citizens who have brought cases before the highest court in the land. Featured: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, Korematsu v. United States, and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. 

  • David Rubenstein, patriotic philanthropist will speak on the history of the Constitutional Convention.

  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will deliver the prime-time address about the Constitution and justice in America.


The NCC expects to welcome 4,000 visitors for the event this year. Admission and activities including the Town Hall programs and exhibits are free, courtesy of the John Templeton Foundation. 


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Full Programming List

Preamble Challenge and Flag Raising Ceremony

8:30 a.m., Front Lawn

Visitors can join the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution for a flag raising ceremony and a live performance of the Star-Spangled Banner. The National Constitution Center will also announce the winners of the Center’s final Civic Literacy Contest, as well as new educational resources and initiatives. National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen will conclude the ceremony by leading students in a rousing reading of the Preamble of the Constitution.


Naturalization Ceremony

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., F.M. Kirby Auditorium (*Seating is limited, preference given to families of new citizens)

50 immigrants from across the globe will take the Oath of Allegiance to officially become citizens of the United States. The Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, will preside over the ceremony and patriotic philanthropist David Rubenstein will keynote. All of the new citizens will be given lifetime memberships to the National Constitution Center. 


Judge Chats: The Courts in the Community

10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 12:30 p.m., Bank of America Theater (*This program is open to student groups, and advanced reservations are required. Speak to a Group Sales Representative at 215-409-6800.)

Students and teachers speak with judges about the interpretation of law and about how the Constitution affects everyday life.


Separation of Powers Show

10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., Grand Hall Overlook

This educational tug-of-war game between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches teaches visitors about the system of checks and balances inherent in the U.S. Constitution. 


Bill of Rights Show

10:15 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:15 p.m., Main Exhibit

Who wants to be a “Bill”-ionaire? In the Center’s fast-paced game show, visitors face off in a fun competition testing their Bill of Rights knowledge while an engaging host reveals the real deal about our amendments and freedoms.   


Flag Etiquette Workshop and Giant Flag Folding Challenge

10:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., Front Lawn

Visitors can learn the history of the American flag, proper flag etiquette, and then help the Center’s education staff fold a 20’X30’ flag.


Pass the Citizenship Test Show

10:30 a.m., 2 p.m., Grand Hall Overlook

Visitors learn about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and gain insight into our country and freedoms. 


Student Town Hall with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick interviewed by David Rubenstein

12 p.m., Sidney Kimmel Theater (*This program is open to student groups, and advanced reservations are required. Speak to a Group Sales Representative at 215-409-6800.)

Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick discuss their new documentary, The Vietnam War, in a conversation with David Rubenstein. Presented in partnership with WHYY.


The Constitution’s Birthday Celebration

12:30 p.m., Grand Hall Overlook

Visitors take part in a birthday celebration, complete with cake, to honor the anniversary of the Constitution’s signing. Includes an appearance by the Father of the Constitution himself, President James Madison.


Constitution Day Supreme Court Panel
1 p.m., F.M. Kirby Auditorium (*This program is open to student groups, and advanced reservations are required. Speak to a Group Sales Representative at 215-409-6800.)

Visitors can participate in a Supreme Court panel discussion featuring John Tinker, co-petitioner, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District; Karen Korematsu, founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, daughter of petitioner, Korematsu v. United States; and Cheryl Brown Henderson, president of the Brown Foundation, daughter of petitioner, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.


The Constitutional Convention with David Rubenstein

2:30 p.m., Kirby Auditorium (*Advanced reservations required)

Patriotic philanthropist David Rubenstein explores what every American should know about the history of the Constitutional Convention, the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and how it affects Americans today.


Constitution Day Keynote by Rod Rosenstein

6:30 p.m., Sidney Kimmel Theater (*Advanced reservations required)

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discusses the Constitution and justice in America. 


OFFSITE PROGRAM: Keynote by Eric Liu

11 a.m., University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall, Hall of Flags (3417 Spruce St.)

In partnership with the National Constitution Center and Penn’s Office of Government Affairs, the Fels Institute of Government is proud to welcome Eric Liu, founder and CEO of Citizen University for a special Constitution Day presentation on civic engagement and his new book: You're More Powerful than You Think. Click here for more information.


Constitution Day Classroom Resources

Interactive Constitution

Teaching about the Constitution is more relevant than ever, and the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution is the best nonpartisan resource on the web and a must-have tool for every classroom. Also available are free, classroom-ready lesson plans, designed to help educators use the Interactive Constitution with their students.

The Interactive Constitution was developed in collaboration with the American Constitution Society and The Federalist Society, and distributed in partnership with the College Board. Made possible through the support of a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.


Constitution Hall Pass Video Lessons

The Constitution Hall Pass video lesson series has been watched by millions of students and teachers nationwide. It’s also a three-time Telly Award winner for excellence in education. In the Center’s newest “mini” episodes, three leading constitutional scholars explore the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Premiering this September, a new full-length episode will explore the relationship between the states and the national government; a system known as Federalism.  


Constitution Day Live Blog

Members of the Center’s education staff will be available to answer Constitution Day questions weekdays September 11-22, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. EDT. Ask about the Interactive Constitution, Constitution Hall Pass videos, events at the museum, and more.


Constitution Day Website

As the nation’s leading Constitution Day resource, the National Constitution Center’s website also includes educational tools and lesson plans, online versions of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization test, previous Constitution Hall Pass episodes, and more. The Center’s social channels—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, and YouTube—offer opportunities for followers to learn about some of the famous and lesser-known Founding Fathers, test their Constitution knowledge, and go behind the scenes on September 18.  



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