DREAM Act and diversity are Constitution Day topics

Berkeley will celebrate Constitution Day with two events that illuminate different aspects of the nation’s founding document.

Because Constitution Day — celebrated on Sept. 17 each year — falls on a Saturday this year, the events are planned before and after the day itself.

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, a panel of experts will discuss “The DREAM Act: 10 Years of Activism & Debate.” Appearing will be Lisa Garcia Bedolla, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education and chair of the Center for Latino Policy Research; Kevin Escudero, a doctoral Student in the Department of Ethnic Studies; and Aarti Kohli, director of immigration policy with the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at Berkeley Law.

The proposed federal DREAM Act would grant citizenship to current college students and military enlistees who were brought to the United States as dependent children. The Constitution Day panel will examine the DREAM Act in terms of its broader historical context and the meaning of citizenship and the immigrant experience in the United States.

The event, sponsored by the Free Speech Movement Café Educational Programs Committee, is free and open to the public. It will take place from 6-8 p.m. at the FSM Café on campus. More information is available by emailing fsm-info@library.berkeley.edu or on the committee’s website.

The second Constitution Day event will take place Thursday, Sept. 22, when political science professor Rogers M. Smith of the University of Pennsylvania will deliver the Jefferson Memorial Lecture.

Entitled “The American Experiment: A 21st Century Assessment,” Smith’s talk will explore America’s unique constitutional democracy. Whether the nation can form a more perfect union out of its ever-growing diversity is again the central test of the American experiment more than two centuries later, according to the lecture’s sponsors, the Graduate Council and the Berkeley Law’s Institute for Legal Research.

A prolific writer, Smith has authored many essays and books, including the recent Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama’s America (with Desmond S. King, 2011).

The Jefferson Lecture will be held at 4:10 p.m. on Sept. in Chevron Auditorium at International House. More information is available on the Jefferson Lecture website.

Federal law requires all schools that receive federal funding to hold educational programs annually to commemorate Constitution Day, which recognizes the signing of the U.S. Constitution by the Constitutional Convention on Sept. 17, 1787.