BYU commemorates Constitution with annual forum



This year's forum will take place on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Matthew Mason)
This year’s forum will take place on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Matthew Mason)

BYU is celebrating the historic signing of the Constitution almost 229 years later; the historic document was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, and BYU is hosting its annual Constitution Day Forum on Thursday, Sept. 15. 

This year’s theme is “James Madison’s Constitution and the Problem of Slavery.” The Constitution Day Forum will take place on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 11 a.m. to noon in the HBLL Auditorium (Room 1060).

The keynote speaker will be David Waldstreicher, a professor at The Graduate Center at the City University of New York. He is the author of “Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification,” in which he chronicles slavery’s place at the heart of the Constitution. Waldstreicher is a historian of early and nineteenth-century America whose interests span political history, cultural history, slavery and antislavery.

Matthew Mason is a BYU associate professor of history and the chairman of the Constitution Day Forum. Mason believes the topics addressed in the forum — the Constitution, slavery and racism — are still relevant in today’s society.

Mason said he understands the Constitution and our founding fathers can sometimes be a difficult topic.

“People will appreciate our founding better, if they understand it better,” Mason said.

Congress has mandated that any school receiving federal funds must recognize the signing of the Constitution, Mason said, and BYU has fulfilled this charge for more than 10 years.

Prior speakers at the event have included former congressman Mickey Edwards and Federal Judge Thomas Griffith.

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