Voices from the Prairie and Princeton Public Library to Co-host Programs on the U.S. Constitution


PRINCETON - A series of four evening programs titled “The U.S. Constitution: Why it Matters” has been scheduled at the Princeton Public Library. The sessions will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Feb. 19 and 26, and Thursdays, March 5 and 12.

The first program of the series will feature Amanda Cook Fesperman, professor of political science and history at Illinois Valley Community College, speaking on “What Were the Founders Thinking?”

“The United States Constitution is often treated like a sacred document that should be literally interpreted and rarely amended. However, it emerged as a compromise among competing interests and since 1787, has been amended 27 times,” Cook Fesperman said.

Addressed in the program will be the contentious debate over slavery that took place at the Constitutional Convention. Cook Fesperman will also discuss how other debates among the founders continue to haunt us. This includes how much power the president should have and whether the very small and very large states in population should still get equal representation in the senate.

Cook Fesperman has taught at IVCC for the past 20 years and is also chair of the IVCC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and is the coordinator for International and Multicultural Education and Study Abroad. Her academic interests lie largely in the study of women and minority groups in American and African history and in contemporary American and African politics.

Free copies of the Constitution and resource lists will be provided to participants.

The second will be presented by Matt Schafer, assistant general counsel, litigation at ViacomCBS, New York. Schafer is a graduate of Princeton High School.

All four programs will be offered with support from the Interactivity Foundation, a non-partisan, tax-exempt organization that promotes civic education and small group discussions of current issues. Shaw Media, publishers of the Bureau County Republican, Ottawa Times and News Tribune newspapers, is collaborating along with WNIJ of Northern Public Radio.

Students and adults of all ages and political perspectives are invited to participate in the free sessions.

Stephanie VanOrdstrand of Voices from the Prairie said the series begins by addressing the history and writing of the original document and the Bill of Rights. It continues, with audience engagement, by looking into the impact of the Constitution and later amendments on everyday life and current affairs.

“In this election year, it’s more important than ever for us all to have a more thorough understanding of not only the key legal foundations, but the historical, social and moral issues that brought us to where we are today,” VanOrdstrand said.

The project will include presentations and group discussions, a trivia night, and other learning activities as well as media outreach to schools and community groups.

Voices from the Prairie is a grassroots citizens’ movement committed to promoting open, ethical, and fair governance and upholding the values of tolerance, fairness, and inclusion in American society and political life. For further information, visit www.facebook.com/voicesfromtheprairie.

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