The National Constitution Center on Sunday announced that the 2014 Liberty Medal will go to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who rose to prominence as an advocate for female education in her country — and was shot by the Taliban for her efforts.
Can’t make it to the shore this holiday weekend? Philadelphia’s got you covered. Here, we round up seven Memorial Day Weekend events to keep your mind off the fact that you’re not splashing in the sea.
This week, the National Constitution Center opened the doors to Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello, its six month-long exhibition about Thomas Jefferson. And to my surprise, the organizers didn’t engage in the customary American practice of sweeping slavery under the rug. In fact, they went right at it by including the word “Slavery” in their title and by addressing “the stories of six slave families who ‘lived’ and ‘worked’ at Jefferson’s plantation — the Fossett, Granger, Gillete, Hemings, Hern, and Hubbard families — and their descendants who fought for justice and helped bring to light their ancestors’ lives and values.”
Nice, huh? Well, yes. But only kinda. By that, I mean they didn’t really “live.” Instead, they actually “suffered and survived.” And they didn’t really “work.” Instead, they actually “slaved and toiled.” But let’s not quibble over semantics. Instead, let’s go the to heart of the matter by enlightening you about who — and what — Thomas Jefferson truly was.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about him:
If you’re lucky enough to have the day off you may want to take the opportunity to check out some of our local museums that you’ve always been meaning to get to. Here are two welcoming guests with a special free day of admission for President’s Day. They’re especially great options if you’re looking for something to do with kids.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY: Family-friendly interactive tours, arts and crafts activities and story times make up NMAJH’s day of celebrations. A rarely seen original letter written by George Washington to the Jewish Community of Newport, R.I., will also be pulled out of storage to be put on display especially for President’s Day. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free, National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East, nmajh.org.
You’ve spent most of your career as a law professor and the legal affairs editor at the New Republic. Why move to Philly to take over the Constitution Center?
I had the best job in the world as a law professor and a journalist. But when the Constitution Center approached me, I realized this was the best job in the world.
My great passion in life has been moderating constitutional conversations. And the Constitution Center is the one place in America, in the world, that’s uniquely qualified to do just that.
You already knew that Hillary Clinton received the Liberty Medal Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center. There was a fair amount of national media there, so we thought and check what they had to say about the event.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush, would-be opponents in the 2016 race to return one of their families to the White House, shared a stage here Tuesday evening and basked in a mood of bipartisan bonhomie.
The former Republican governor of Florida celebrated Clinton’s commitment to public service as she received the 2013 Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
“Hillary and I come from different political parties, and we disagree about a few things, but we do agree on the wisdom of the American people — especially those in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina,” said Bush, who is chairman of the National Constitution Center.
But wait! The Washington Times reports that Jeb “kept his distance” from Clinton!
Critics were aghast that Bush would celebrate Clinton, particularly with controversy still raw over the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton was secretary of state at the time.
“Jeb Bush shows non-presidential mettle with Hillary Clinton medal,” read the headline on a conservative website. Twitter burned for weeks. “@JebBush Really? Hillary. Really? #Benghazi,” one person wrote Tuesday night.
Bush, already under fire for his advocacy of the Common Core education standards, was cordial toward Clinton, but his speech avoided talking about her career.
Even as Bush seemed to brush off criticism, he never got too close to Clinton, denying a photo of them side-by-side that would surely be used against him in a future campaign.
Politico also emphasized the damage that Jeb Bush was taking by being at the ceremony:
“Secretary Clinton is out of office. So am I. I’m not sure what people expect to happen here tonight,” Bush said. “We do agree on the wisdom of the American people, especially those in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
But he was unlikely to placate all conservative onlookers and Clinton critics.
“If Jeb Bush didn’t want to run for the Republican nomination, he could have just said so,” wrote Jim Geraghty at National Review, noting that the event falls one day before the one-year anniversary of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
“Now, you see a story like this and you say, “What in the name of Sam Hill?” right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh said after the event was announced in June.
The message here, of course, is that conservatives will be royally punished for ever reaching across party lines or ever acting in a non- or bipartisan manner. What’s the National Constitution Center to do? Only give the Liberty Medal to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz? It’s not a “conservative of the year” award.
Hillary Clinton mostly stayed away from the Syria debate while receiving the National Constitution Center’s 2013 Liberty Medal here Tuesday night, only mentioning the controversy once in her 15-minute speech.
“That violated universal norms,” she said of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons. “It demands a strong respond from the international community, led by the U.S.”
Since President Obama addressed the nation an hour after her remarks, Clinton may have decided to leave it to him to discuss the constantly evolving situation.
The president’s speech also allowed Clinton to gracefully back out of her previously announced plans to deliver a “robust policy speech” at the event. “It’s simply and obviously not the right time,” a source told Politico. “Furthermore, she is very mindful that she will be speaking only an hour or so before the President addresses the nation.”
But, you know: Jeb.
Nah, Hillary Clinton isn’t running for president.
Sure, just about everybody who gathered Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center to see Clinton receive the Liberty Medal expects to see her run—the out-of-town media that gathered, the extra-supportive crowd, and just about everybody who got up on stage to sing her praises clearly expect it.
“I think Secretary Clinton is going to be in Des Moines next week,” said Jeb Bush, referencing Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. (To be fair, Jeb probably will be there too.)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to Philly tomorrow, the eve of the anniversary of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Organizers expect Clinton to address the Syria situation during her Liberty Medal acceptance speech.
The one and only Jeb Bush will present Clinton with the award. Earlier this summer he said she “has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy” via a press release. Both Bush and Clinton, of course, are potential presidential hopefuls in 2016.
Fomer Liberty Medal recipients include presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Robert Gates. Last year’s winner was Muhammad Ali. But at least one conservative organization has a problem with this particular Clinton getting this recognition:
Don Adams, an organizer of the Independence Hall Foundation, said in an email to POLITICO that the group’s mission is to “seek to promote the ideals of the United States as embodied in its founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We recognize and honor Independence Hall as the physical and symbolic foundation of the American nation.”
“To give her a liberty medal on the eve of the Benghazi attack is an affront to the victims, it’s an affront to the American people. Frankly, it’s a sheer disgrace,” Adams told POLITICO.
Clinton’s talk will kick off at 7 p.m. at the Constitution Center. [Fox]
So this is why Ashton Kutcher is speaking at Penn. All of the country’s “great minds” that weren’t on a hit TV show, like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had prior engagements.
Ginsburg, in fact, is scheduled to speak at the Constitution Center tonight in front of a sold-out audience. Ginsburg, for those Ashton Kutcher fans among us, recently performed a same-sex marriage ceremony at the Kennedy Center for the Performing arts after 20 years on the nation’s highest court. Now that’s a reason to listen to someone talk.
The talk starts at 7:30, so if you’re feeling lucky (or if scalpers exist for Constitution Center events), head on down and try to get in. It’s not everyday you get high odds of seeing the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court discuss gay marriage—one of our country’s biggest hangups to date.
Penn, I hope you’re taking notes. [Philly.com]