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HCC hosts Constitution Day ‘09

 

Halifax Community College hosted its fifth annual Constitution & Citizenship Day, Sept. 18. The event took place in the 100 Building. Federal law requires that any agency receiving federal funds acknowledge Constitution Day. HCC History Instructor and Department Chair Shaun Stokes coordinated the event.

 

Dr. Carolyn Mbajekwe, the president and CEO of the Minority Higher Education Consulting Group, gave the keynote speech. In her address, she emphasized the aspect of compromise written into the Constitution.

 

“Today, Americans live under the oldest written constitution in the history of the world. When the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia and began working on what would become the U.S. Constitution, they did not comprehend that the results of their actions would endure for so long,” said Mbajekwe. “The key to our Constitution is compromise. …To function properly, every part of our government must compromise.” She explained that this was a novel approach at the time the Constitution was written and there was no other model in the world like it.

 

“The American Constitution, as a concept, was revolutionary in nature. There was no precedent for this anywhere in the world. It marked the birth of a representative democracy. For the first time in the history of the world, power was placed in the hands of the people,” she added. “The American Constitution gave birth to the foundation of the modern concept of freedom.”

 

Mbajekwe explained that the rhetoric of freedom stood in opposition to what was happening in real life at the time, so what has been called the American paradox was created—what was on paper was different from what was practiced. She explained efforts in the 20th century to give everyone equal protection under the law including those who had previously been marginalized and disenfranchised. “This is why we call it the living, breathing Constitution,” she added and challenged students to continue working for an equal and just nation.

 

Photo: Dr. Carolyn Mbajekwe