MTSU marks Constitution Day Sept. 17 with voting rights panel, voter registration, document readings

Sep 16, 2020 at 06:00 am by WGNS

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU is filling its 2020 Constitution Day observance with events to educate and encourage citizens to exercise their right to vote in this election year.

The university will mark the 233rd anniversary of the U.S. Constitution’s signing Thursday, Sept. 17, when students, faculty, staff and visitors gather to read the historic document in its entirety.

Instead of the traditional individual reading sessions at MTSU’s colleges throughout the day, however, this year’s readings will be held at two sites:

• A west campus event, hosted by Blue Raider student athletes, set for the steps of the Kennon Sports Hall of Fame building, 1320 Greenland Drive, from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Sept. 17.

• An east campus event, hosted by MTSU honors students and student organizations, planned on the lawn of the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building, 1737 Blue Raider Drive, from noon to 1:15 p.m.

The public is welcome to attend and participate in both Constitution reading events. Masks and appropriate distancing will be required.

At 3 p.m. CDT Sept. 17, MTSU plans its keynote Constitution Day event, “Voting Access, Equity, Justice: Beyond Celebration,” a live panel discussion on the efforts toward and the aftermath of the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Available free to watch online at, the discussion will include:

• Aleia Brown, an alumna of MTSU’s doctoral Public History Program and the assistant director of the African American Digital Humanities Initiative at the University of Maryland’s Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. She also is co-founder and organizer of two digital humanities projects, #BlkTwitterstorians and #MuseumsRespondtoFerguson.

• Laura Free, chair of the Department of History at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, whose research interests include gender, race and politics in 19th-century America. She’s the author of “Suffrage Reconstructed: Gender, Race and Voting Rights in the Civil War Era,” which focuses on how the 14th Amendment first added gender-specific language to the Constitution.

• Tiffany Momon, another MTSU public history alumna and a visiting professor of history at Sewanee: The University of the South. Her recent research focuses on the experiences of students at the first U.S. higher education institution for Black women to receive its collegiate charter, Spelman College, in its 75 years of service preceding that charter.

• Minoa Uffelman, a history professor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, whose research and teaching focuses on the U.S. South and women. Her current research projects include editing the Civil War diary of Clarksville resident Serepta Jordan and co-editing the second volume of “Tennessee Women in the Progressive Era.”

Karen Petersen, dean of MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts and a professor of political science, will moderate this frank conversation on race, gender and citizenship in America.

The university also is marking the historic anniversary with four days of open voter registration on the south side of MTSU’s quad in front of the James E. Walker Library, 1611 Alumni Drive.

Volunteers, including members of the MTSU chapter of the American Democracy Project, the Murfreesboro American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, will provide information Sept. 14-17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.

Monday, Oct. 5, is the deadline to register to vote in Tennessee in the Nov. 3 election. Early voting in Tennessee is set Wednesday, Oct. 14, through Thursday, Oct. 29.

Voters who want to cast an absentee ballot by mail can request the ballot from their local election commission office now; the offices will begin mailing absentee ballots by late September.

The election office must receive the voter’s absentee ballot by return mail before Tuesday, Nov. 3 — election day.

Along with the American Democracy Project, the College of Liberal Arts and the League of Women Voters, sponsors for MTSU’s 2020 Constitution Day celebration include MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation, the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, the University Honors College, the Office of the University Provost, the MTSU Distinguished Lectures Fund and the Albert Gore Research Center.

For more information about the American Democracy Project at MTSU,  visit

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