By Curt Yeomans
Chad Chisolm, a Clayton State University senior, from New York City, believes presidential candidate, Barack Obama, owes a lot to the people who got the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ratified.
The amendment was ratified on Feb. 3, 1870, prohibiting states from denying a person the right to vote based on their race.
On Aug. 28 of this year, Sen. Obama became the first African American to accept the presidential nomination of a major political party.
Chisolm said the change, which resulted in the 15th Amendment, was the result of people being aware of what the Constitution meant, and of the prejudice which existed in the late 19th Century. He draws a direct line between the drafting of the amendment 138 years ago, and Obama's feat a few weeks ago.
"They [the amendment's authors] always had that vision in mind," Chisolm said. "The Constitution has allowed us to have some sort of guideline for how we can create change in our society."
Clayton State is celebrating the 121st birthday of the Constitution with two weeks of events, including a display of documents related to the nation's founding. The celebration began on Monday, and will continue through Sept. 19. The anniversary of the Constitution's creation is Sept. 17.
"Every year, we try to make it bigger than before," said Mark May, Clayton State's dean of retention and student success. "We also try to integrate these events into our curriculum."
Key events during Constitution Days are:
· Monday, Sept. 15: Dr. Eugene Hatfield, a retired Clayton State history professor, will give a speech on "The Constitution and Civic Engagement," at 2 p.m., in room 272 of the James M. Baker University Center. A voter registration drive will also take place in the lobby of the center.
· Wednesday, Sept. 17: Jamil Zainaldin, president of the Georgia Humanities Council, will give a presentation about the Constitution at 10 a.m., at the National Archives Southeast Region, 5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow.
· Thursday, Sept. 18: University officials will conduct the annual reading of the Constitution at 11:30 a.m., in the lobby of the university center.