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Constitution Day 2021: “African American Workers and the U.S. Constitution: Past and Present” with Professor Joe William Trotter, Jr.

Constitution Day 2021: “African American Workers and the U.S. Constitution: Past and Present” with Professor Joe William Trotter, Jr.

Carnegie Mellon University Libraries in association with the Division of Student Affairs and Alumni Association are honored to welcome Professor Joe William Trotter, Jr. as featured speaker for our annual Constitution Day event. 


From the outset of the American constitution through recent times, outstanding Black leaders (from Frederick Douglass through Martin Luther King and others) have embraced principles of “equality and constitutional rights.” Using these ideas as a foundation, they advanced vigorous social movements against slavery, Jim Crow, and the ongoing “racial” subordination of Black people in American society, culture, and politics.  But the adoption of egalitarian political and constitutional principles were not limited to the most articulate, well-educated, and influential elites.  They were also an integral part of the broad constellation of struggles and strategies that poor and working class people used to forge their own fights for economic democracy, alongside their quest for full political citizenship in the republic.  In this talk, Professor Joe William Trotter, Jr. will highlight some of the most salient ways, past and present, that ordinary working people both embraced and deployed constitutional principles that not only served their own interests, but also helped to invigorate and reinvigorate American constitutionalism over nearly two and a half centuries of time.


Full program includes:

  • Opening remarks by Keith Webster, Dean of University Libraries and Director of Emerging and Integrative Media.
  • Short video on one of the four existing copies of the original U.S. Bill of Rights housed in Carnegie Mellon University Libraries’ Special Collections. Hosted by Dr. Samuel Lemley, Curator of Special Collections.
  • Q&A session moderated by Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Chief Diversity Officer.
  • Closing remarks by Gina Casalegno, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.


This is a virtual event. Please register to attend.


About the Speaker


Joe William Trotter, Jr. is the Giant Eagle University Professor of History and Social Justice and past History Department Chair at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is also the Director and Founder of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) and President Elect of the Urban History Association. His latest publications are Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America (University of California Press, 2019) and Pittsburgh and the Urban League Movement: A Century of Social Service and Activism (University of Kentucky Press, 2020).  Professor Trotter received his BA degree from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. He is currently working on a study of African American urban life since the Atlantic slave trade.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021
5:00pm - 6:15pm
Time Zone:
Eastern Time - US & Canada (change)
Virtual Event

Workshops and events for Carnegie Mellon University Libraries are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, ancestry, belief, veteran status or genetic information.

If you require accessibility accommodations, please contact the event organizer. 


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Andy Prisbylla

Student Engagement Coordinator

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