We the People: besides being the first words of the U.S. Constitution, this phrase is also the name of the most popular exhibit at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center. Also known as The American National Tree, it boasts names and biographies of bold and forward-thinking female and fellow citizens of this great nation of ours.
The National Constitution Center, in partnership with Scholastic Inc. and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers is pleased to present the 2013 M.R. Robinson National Constitution Center American National Tree Award.
If you earned a Gold Key in the 2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and you’re going to be in 8th to 12th grade in September, here’s your chance to win a $1,000 scholarship and add a new leaf!
Each year, Gold Key recipients in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are invited to write a biographical profile of a constitutionally-important person. One student’s exemplary essay will be added to the American National Tree and that student will be invited to Philadelphia on September 17, 2013 to be part of an opening ceremony. In addition, the winning student will receive a $1,000 scholarship!
To apply for the American National Tree Award, follow these steps:
- Select one of the notable Americans listed below;
- Compose a 250-500-word biographical essay; and
- Send us your essay no later than July 1.
- Mail to American National Tree, Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012; or
- Email your essay as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For inspiration, read last year’s award-winning essay by Carter Jimenez-Jenkins.
The 2013 American National Tree Candidates
Alexandra “Alex” Scott was born in 1996 and before her first birthday was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer. At age 4, Alex received a stem cell transplant and informed her mother, “when I get out of the hospital I want to have a lemonade stand…to help [doctors] help other kids, like they helped me.” Her first lemonade stand raised an amazing $2,000. Before her death in 2004, the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation had raised more than $1 million for neuroblastoma research.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords represented Arizona’s 8th congressional district from 2007-2012, elected to Congress three times. Giffords was a victim of gun violence in 2011 when a man opened fire in Tucson, AZ., at a shopping mall during her constituent meeting. Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly formed Americans for Responsible Solutions following the Newtown, CT. mass shooting to push for stronger gun laws. Giffords’ gun control group has raised a staggering $11 million over the past months.
Thaddeus Stevens was born in 1792 in Vermont and became a Radical Republican leader and one of the most powerful members in the U.S. House of Representatives. He focused much of his political attention on civil rights, eventually helping to draft the 14th Amendment abolishing slavery. He dominated the House during Reconstruction and proposed the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.
Hiram Rhodes Revels
Born into a free black family in Fayetteville, NC in 1827, Revels was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), and a politician. He was the first person of color to serve in the United States Senate, and in the U.S. Congress overall. He represented Mississippi in 1870 and 1871 during Reconstruction. During the American Civil War, he helped organize two regiments of the United States Colored Troops and served as a chaplain.
Mary Beth Tinker
Iowan Mary Beth Tinker was a 13-year-old student in 1965 when she and a group of students wore black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam. The school board got wind of the protest and passed a preemptive ban. Represented by the ACLU, the students and their families embarked on a four-year court battle that culminated in the landmark Supreme Court decision: Tinker v. Des Moines, in which the Court held that the First Amendment protected students’ rights to non-disruptive protest.
Originally a Democrat, Arlen Specter became a Republican in 1965 and joined the Senate in 1980. During his time in the Senate, Specter broke with Republicans in his public disapproval of the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Specter made the news again in 2009 when switched parties again to become a Democrat. He died in 2012.