Originally Posted on October 3, 2017 by Lauren Moye, BPC Managing Editor, Brewton Parker College, Mt. Vernon, Georgia:
Sen. Blake Tillery, the speaker at Brewton-Parker College’s Constitution Day lecture, kept his primarily student audience engaged with a conversational lecture-style. The event was held on Sept. 18 in Brewton-Parker’s Gilder Recital Hall in accordance with Federal Law.
An Interactive Approach
Tillery began by reading the preamble of the Constitution. He then said, “I could read these sentences over and over tonight, but you wouldn’t learn anything.”
Tillery brought students from the audience on the stage to participate in a gameshow-style trivia game. One set of students answered facts about the Constitution’s history, such as when it was signed, where it was signed, and how many people signed it. Another set of students competed against each other to successfully name the first ten amendments.
The trivia section proved instrumental in making Tillery’s lecture a success, as the crowd increasingly interacted with the people on the stage. At one point, Tillery asked a contestant to name the two representatives from Georgia who had signed the Constitution. An audience member shouted, “He’s from California!”
Tillery immediately amended his question, “Can you tell me how many representatives from California signed?”
The student correctly responded, “Zero.”
Transition into a Dialogue
Sen. Blake Tillery of the Georgia Senate shakes hands with Dr. Amanda Allen, Professor of History and the organizer of the Constitution Day lecture.
This banter between Tillery and the audience allowed for a smooth transition into an actual dialogue about the Constitution and its importance. Students became key players in the lecture process. Tillery both guided this discussion with key questions and encouraged his participants to keep talking. After one woman described the Constitution as a baseline for justice, Tillery responded, “A baseline? That is a great word. You’ll hear that again in a moment.”
After letting the audience discuss many of the Constitution’s keywords, Tillery tied up the evening with a short speech. “Our society operates on certainty,” he stated. He gave the examples like a stock broker or a student, who expected things to operate in certain ways. Tillery then said, “That’s really what the Constitution does for us. It gives us a baseline of certainty.”
He also urged students to understand that there are risks involved when exercising the rights given to us in the Constitution. Tillery gave the specific example of how the right to free speech can still carry societal repercussions. Tillery ended the speech by asking the audience, “What are you doing to protect the Constitution? What are you doing to ensure that the next generation thinks it’s important?”
The lecture was followed by a dessert reception in the lobby.
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