Voting rights, Jefferson topics for Constitution Day

The campus is observing Constitution Day with programs examining the state of voting rights in the United States and one of the nation’s Founding Fathers, President Thomas Jefferson.

Voting rights

In the first event, Jonathan Stein, a voting rights attorney with the Asian American Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, will lead a conversation at the Free Speech Movement Café from 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 21) about the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of voting rights to U.S. citizens.

Voting rights will be the topic of a Constitution Day conversation at the Free Speech Cafe.

Voting rights will be the topic of a Constitution Day conversation at the Free Speech Cafe.

A Berkeley alumnus, Stein pushed for access, diversity and affordability as a student member of the UC Board of Regents. In addition to his position with the law caucus, Stein belongs to Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission and chairs the California Common Cause board of directors.

Jefferson’s complicated vision

The campus’s second Constitution Day program will feature Harvard University’s Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History, Annette Gordon-Reed, delivering the annual Jefferson Memorial Lecture, exploring Jefferson’s vision for the fledgling country, and how race and slavery complicated his views of what kind of society was possible on the American continent.

Gordon-Reed’s talk will begin at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Chevron Auditorium at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave., at the intersection with Bancroft Way.

Gordon-Reed may be best-known for her 1997 book Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An America Controversy, in which she used historical analysis, manuscripts and studies of Jefferson’s life to review how historians had handled the question of a relationship between Jefferson and Hemings, a slave on his Monticello plantation. Her conclusion that the pair had children together was confirmed by DNA evidence in 1998.

She also wrote Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History and The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in history, the National Book Award and 15 other awards.

Her latest book is Most Blessed of Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of Imagination ), which she co-authored. Gordon-Reed is working on a second volume about the Hemings family that will take them into the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Consult an online campus map for directions to the events.