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'Hamilton' musical prompts discussion during Constitution Week

2020-09-14-Constitution Week
UNG's Constitution Day and American Democracy Committee will host a "Hamilton" and Constitution Forum from noon to 1 p.m. Sept. 21, via Zoom.

Fans of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" and experts on the U.S. Constitution will join forces to celebrate the Founding Fathers and commemorate the nation's founding document during Constitution Week at the University of North Georgia (UNG).

UNG President Bonita Jacobs issued a proclamation marking Sept. 17 as Constitution Day at the university in honor of the 233 anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution of the United States.

"UNG commemorates this historic day through educational activities and by encouraging civic engagement among our students, faculty and staff," Jacobs said in the proclamation.

UNG's Constitution Day and American Democracy Committee will host a "Hamilton" and Constitution Forum from noon to 1 p.m. Sept. 21, via Zoom. Students, faculty and staff may participate with the link

Four UNG faculty members, including two historians, one political science expert and one music theorist, will discuss Alexander Hamilton's life, his rivalry with Thomas Jefferson, and his involvement with the U.S. Constitution and Federalist Papers as well as the composer's use of the facts in the rap and song lyrics. The four faculty members are Dr. Patrick Hightower, lecturer of history; Dr. Carl Cavalli, professor of political science; Dr. Clay Ouzts, professor of history; and Dr. Tamika Sterrs-Howard, part-time faculty member of music.

A trivia game, with three short quizzes at the beginning, middle and end, will allow students to win Hamilton stickers and posters, said Dr. Lauren Bradshaw, chair of the Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Committee on UNG's Dahlonega campus.

"I thought this would be a fun and engaging new way to celebrate the Constitution and one of the Founding Fathers," said the assistant professor of middle grades, secondary and science education.

Bradshaw explained the musical shone a spotlight on Hamilton's life and contributions to the United States when it premiered in 2015. The musical's popularity has grown with a recording of the Broadway show being released through the Disney+ streaming service, which allows the general public to watch.

"The musical displays the relevant themes of ambition and freedom that are in society today," Bradshaw said. "People who could not afford theater tickets now have the opportunity to watch it, including myself and my 8-year-old daughter."

Based on the mass appeal, Bradshaw hopes UNG students from all five campuses will participate compared to previous in-person events. She explained she also opted for the online forum because of the guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In the past, we had a citizenship test in the Dining Hall on the Dahlonega Campus," she said. "I felt that was not appropriate this year."

Bradshaw knows the importance of commemorating Constitution Week.

"When our cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants, they take an oath to support and defend our Constitution," she said. "Whereas other nations have had to rewrite constitutions numerous times, our constitution provides opportunities for change, to me this highlights how our Constitution is the strongest element of the American legacy."

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