Na­tional Ar­chives’ cel­e­bra­tion of the Bill of Rights’ 225th an­niver­sary

The Washington Times Daily - - CELEBRATING FREEDOM - By Na­tional Ar­chives The Na­tional Ar­chives and Records Ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­tects and pre­serves the na­tion’s most im­por­tant le­gal and his­tor­i­cal records, in­clud­ing the Bill of Rights, Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence and the Con­sti­tu­tion. To learn more about exhi

As the per­ma­nent home of the Bill of Rights, no in­sti­tu­tion is bet­ter poised to cel­e­brate the 225th an­niver­sary of this ex­tra­or­di­nary doc­u­ment than the Na­tional Ar­chives. Do­ing so in grand scale in 2016 and 2017, the Ar­chives is un­der­tak­ing a ground­break­ing na­tional ini­tia­tive to ex­plore the power of the Bill of Rights and our en­dur­ing sys­tem of gov­ern­ment through lo­cal and na­tional ex­hibits for adults and chil­dren, a sym­po­sium on the cur­rent state of in­di­vid­ual rights, and ed­u­ca­tional ef­forts in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and around the coun­try.

A first for the Ar­chives, this uni­fied plat­form of pub­lic pro­gram­ming and out­reach will en­gage ev­ery pos­si­ble au­di­ence in the story of “Amend­ing Amer­ica,” fea­tur­ing dig­i­tal, ex­hi­bi­tion, ed­u­ca­tional and pro­gram­matic el­e­ments.

Be­tween March 2016 and Septem­ber 2017, nearly a mil­lion vis­i­tors will have the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence “Amend­ing Amer­ica,” a spe­cial ex­hibit at the Na­tional Ar­chives in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., which is free and open to the pub­lic.

On view in the mu­seum’s Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, the ex­hibit fea­tures orig­i­nal doc­u­ments from the Na­tional Ar­chives that high­light the story of how we have amended, or at­tempted to amend, our Con­sti­tu­tion in or­der to form a more per­fect union.

Through four dif­fer­ent themes, the ex­hibit ex­plores the more than 11,000 pro­pos­als pre­sented in Congress to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion, as well as the im­pact the 27 rat­i­fied amend­ments have had on our daily lives. Top­ics in­clude in­di­vid­ual rights, the power and struc­ture of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, and the amend­ing process.

In ad­di­tion to the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., ex­hi­bi­tion, the Na­tional Ar­chives will un­der­take a unique co­or­di­nated ef­fort to en­sure that peo­ple across the coun­try have ac­cess to the records and dis­cus­sions that sur­round the Bill of Rights and the his­tory of our Con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments.

The first “Na­tional Con­ver­sa­tion,” held in At­lanta, fo­cused on civil rights and jus­tice and fea­tured a Q&A be­tween for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter and Der­reck Kay­ongo, CEO of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Civil and Hu­man Rights.

The sec­ond “Na­tional Con­ver­sa­tion,” held in Chicago, fo­cused on the chal­lenges to and fu­ture of civil and hu­man rights for the LGBTQ com­mu­nity and fea­tured a key­note by noted au­thor and poet Richard Blanco.

The third “Na­tional Con­ver­sa­tion,” held in New York, fo­cused on women’s rights, gen­der equal­ity and ad­vo­cacy, and fea­tured panel dis­cus­sions and re­marks by na­tional fig­ures, in­clud­ing Rep. Jer­rold Nadler, New York Demo­crat; New York City Coun­cil Speaker Melissa Mark-Viver­ito; and award­win­ning broad­cast an­chor and CEO of Starfish Me­dia Group Soledad O’Brien.

The fourth “Na­tional Con­ver­sa­tion,” held in Los An­ge­les, fo­cused on im­mi­gra­tion, ac­cess and bar­ri­ers, and fea­tured a dis­cus­sion be­tween Julissa Arce, ac­tivist and au­thor of “My (Un­der­ground) Amer­i­can Dream,” and Jeff Yang, au­thor and cul­tural critic.

The next event on “Ed­u­ca­tion Ac­cess and Eq­uity” will be held Feb. 1, at the Ge­orge W. Bush Li­brary and Pres­i­den­tial Mu­seum, Dal­las, Texas.

The series will cul­mi­nate in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., where the Ar­chives will host a mul­ti­day event with ma­jor po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural lead­ers. The broad ini­tia­tive will be uni­fied through on­line plat­forms and live-stream­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, which in turn of­fer plat­forms for na­tional so­cial me­dia en­gage­ment.

A com­pan­ion trav­el­ing ex­hibit, “Amend­ing Amer­ica: The Bill of Rights,” is now up at the Hous­ton Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral Sci­ence and will move to the Sixth Floor Mu­seum at Dealey Plaza in Dal­las in Jan­uary.

The ex­hibit will travel to nu­mer­ous lo­ca­tions where in­sti­tu­tions will have the op­por­tu­nity to bring the con­tent of “Amend­ing Amer­ica” to their com­mu­ni­ties.

Like the trav­el­ing ex­hibit, class­room pop-up dis­plays will present key in­for­ma­tion about the Bill of Rights and Con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments. In ad­di­tion to schools, li­braries and com­mu­nity cen­ters will be places to dis­play the pop-up ex­hibit.

Ex­hibits at our Pres­i­den­tial Li­braries carry through the theme. Ear­lier this year the Jimmy Carter Li­brary and Mu­seum in At­lanta hosted “The Con­tin­ual Strug­gle: The Amer­i­can Free­dom Move­ment and the Seeds of So­cial Change,” an ex­hibit of art­work in­spired by the civil rights move­ment. Through the end of 2017, vis­i­tors to the Harry S. Tru­man Li­brary and Mu­seum in In­de­pen­dence, Mis­souri, can see “A More Per­fect Union: How Crit­i­cal Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tions Shaped the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

To more deeply en­gage the pub­lic of all ages, the Ar­chives will ac­com­pany each of the pre­ced­ing el­e­ments with an ar­ray of ed­u­ca­tional and pro­gram­ming ef­forts. In ad­di­tion to high­light­ing “Amend­ing Amer­ica” through cur­rent ini­tia­tives — such as Doc­sTeach. org, stu­dent and teacher work­shops, themed Fam­ily Days, and other in­ter­ac­tive learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — the Ar­chives will greatly ex­pand its of­fer­ings by host­ing such events at re­gional fa­cil­i­ties and part­ner in­sti­tu­tions na­tion­ally, in­clud­ing Kansas City, Dal­las, New York City, At­lanta and Los An­ge­les.

The Ar­chives will also of­fer a di­verse series of free pub­lic pro­grams to fur­ther ex­pand the au­di­ence’s un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ent themes ad­dressed in “Amend­ing Amer­ica,” as well as high­light ad­di­tional top­ics not fea­tured in the ex­hibit. These pro­grams in­clude lec­tures, panel dis­cus­sions, film screen­ings and we­b­casts from the Wil­liam G. McGowan Theater at the Na­tional Ar­chives Mu­seum in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Mil­i­tary veter­ans visit the Ro­tunda of the Na­tional Ar­chives in 2015, where they can view the orig­i­nal Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, and Bill of Rights. Im­age cour­tesy of Na­tional Ar­chives and Records Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

A fa­ther ex­plains the Bill of Rights to his sons dur­ing a March 2016 visit to the Na­tional Ar­chives in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Im­age by Jeff Reed, cour­tesy of Na­tional Ar­chives and Records Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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