“A house divided cannot stand.”
That famous declaration of Abraham Lincoln’s looms large today. It seems like every day we receive further evidence of just how divided we are. Americans increasingly can’t agree on what our nation is, who it includes, how it should be governed, or what common values we honor and respect.
In fact, according to a recent Battleground Poll, conducted by Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, a full 70% of Americans believe we are nearing the edge of civil war.
America has lost its way. How can we be “one nation, under God, indivisible” again?
In divided times like these, it’s more important than ever to teach Americans about the documents and principles that hold our nation together—the U.S. Constitution and the civic institutions and practices it enshrines—before they go forgotten and are lost.
That’s been Constituting America’s mission since Actress Janine Turner (Northern Exposure, Friday Night Lights, Cliffhanger) founded it in 2010. It’s been the best—and only—organization educating young Americans, through multi-media and cultural outreach, about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the rights it protects.
You and I know that it is only through our nation’s founding principles—individual liberty, the rule of law, property rights, and limited government—that the United States can again flourish. Our hope lies in restoring reverence for these principles among young Americans.
I want to share with you today the optimism I feel for the future of our nation—not just because of all we’ve accomplished in 2019, but because of all you and I can do together in 2020 and beyond.
As you may know, 2020 marks Constituting America’s 10th birthday! And as we turn ten, our plans are bigger than ever—especially when it comes to reaching young American citizens in schools! Constituting America has had unprecedented demand from public schools this past year for our programs. In fact, we’ve almost doubled 2018’s total!
Last year we made 90 school presentations introducing students to the importance of the U.S. Constitution. This year, we’re already at 158 presentations, with more scheduled before year’s end! These include presentations by
- Janine Turner, our founder and co-president, who connects dynamically via Skype to classrooms around the country, offering students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to become inspired about the U.S. Constitution by an Emmy and three-time Golden Globe nominated actress.
- Terry Cherry, the Immediate Past President of the National Council of the Social Studies and a retired social studies teacher, speaking directly to the importance of our nation’s founding institutions.
- Re-enactors from the American Historical Theatre whose gripping portrayals bring George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams, Betsy Ross, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin into public schools. This past year we reached over 1,600 students in three different schools in Northern Virginia with these talented actors, bringing history vividly to life for students.
Constituting America’s efforts directly address the root problem dividing our country: a lack of civil discourse. People acting as if shaming, silencing, slandering, or screaming in the streets are the best ways to address disagreement.
We teach students a better, American way: to solve disagreements and pursue change by using RAPPS—their first amendment rights to religion, assembly, petition, press, and speech. It’s through principled commitment to such free assembly and expression that citizens can peacefully partake in a republic—NOT through the tyranny of mob passion.
This effort took a major step forward last January when Constituting America launched our Civil Civic Conversation program, holding 13 pilot Conversations involving 331 students in Houston, Dallas, and Ohio. Students adopted opposing views on a controversial issue, then worked together to create a legislative solution. Educators involved in the program called the discussions “simply amazing,” especially in how students “implemented them into our classroom practices.”
We can’t wait to build on the smashing success of this pilot program in 2020, to introduce these crucial habits of democratic citizenship and civility to thousands of students around the country. Our plans include adding more speakers to our school speaking team including veterans, active duty police officers and more retired teachers!
In 2020, Constituting America will also tackle the divisive revisionist histories that seek to poison Americans’ attitudes concerning our founding. With our upcoming 90 Day Study, entitled:
In the Course of Human Events: A 90 Day Study of Important Dates In American History That Shaped the United States And Changed The World
We will publish an essay a day for 90 Days by a noted Constitutional Scholar or historian on an important date relevant to the founding of our country. Our 90 Day Studies are shared widely on social media, and we have one of the strongest social media followings of any Constitution Education organization.
Rest assured that we will also continue to promote our “We The Future” Contest Winners’ creative efforts. We hope to build on 2019’s tremendous numbers culminating in: 145 million impressions of our winners’ songs, over 12 million views of their PSA’s, and over 40 film festival acceptances!
This is just the outer edge of Constituting America’s work. But the point I want to emphasize is simply this: Even as the divisions in our nation widen, Constituting America is growing to bridge the gap and restore America to its roots.
Can we count on your continued support to bring our urgently needed programming to the young men and women who will be the civic leaders of tomorrow?
Your tax-deductible gift of to Constituting America will help us educate young Americans in the founding documents and principles of our nation . . . and train them to be the informed and responsible citizens who mend our wounds of division in the years to come.
Thank you so much for your tireless support of our most cherished American values. In times of turmoil like these, it is wonderful to be able to count you as a friend. You are an important member of our team, educating students about the U.S. Constitution and our country’s founding principles.
With our best wishes for a wonderful Christmas, and a Happy New Year,
P.S. – What’s tearing our nation apart is not simply partisanship but rather the inability to have a civil civic conversation. Your tax-deductible gift to Constituting America can introduce a new generation of young Americans to the lost art of Civil Civic Conversations, based on Constitutional knowledge and our country’s founding principles.
Please give your most generous gift today and help us make our year-end goal that will allow us to grow our Constitution Education programs in 2020 and take Constituting America to the next level for our 10 year anniversary!