The University of Northern Iowa welcomes Nikole Hannah-Jones to deliver the 2019 Constitution Day address, titled "Separate and Unequal: Considering Modern Day Segregation and the American Constitution," at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16 in the Great Hall of the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center.
Hannah-Jones, a Waterloo native, covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and has spent years chronicling the way official policy has created—and maintains—racial segregation in housing and schools. Her deeply personal reports on the black experience in America offer a compelling case for greater equity. She has written extensively on the history of racism, school resegregation, and the disarray of hundreds of desegregation orders, as well as the decades-long failure of the federal government to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act. She is currently writing a book on school segregation called "The Problem We All Live With," to be published on the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House. In 2017, she was named a McArthur Genius Grant Fellow.
“This promises to be an engaging event that challenges us to consider whether we are living up to our constitutional commitment to equal protection of the laws,” said Jim Wohlpart, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We hope it will spark meaningful conversations on campus and in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo community.”
Toward that end, the university is participating in Campus Compact's nationwide Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative, which aims to increase dialogue across the state about complex public issues and to, “equip students, faculty and staff with the skills to build a shared understanding of challenges, to empathize with experiences very different from one’s own, and to create positive change from collaboration.” UNI students, faculty and staff will be reading and discussing Hannah-Jones' work to help contribute to this dialogue.
Constitution Day is observed each year on September 17 to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on Sept.17, 1787, and “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”
The event is sponsored by University of Northern Iowa’s American Democracy Project, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the President.