With the General Election just a few months away, some residents are taking steps they feel will help them make more informed decisions at the polls. They’re taking a class called Constitution 101 that is being offered at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library.
“My wife and I signed up so we could refresh our memories and get a better understanding of the laws,” said 75-year old Randy Roberts. “Just to really find out what is going on and what are our leaders doing to us and for us.”
Reginald Blackmon also signed up for the adult only class. He did it to better understand the voting process and share that information with his family. “I have a personal responsibility to teach it to my children and my children’s children so they have a proper grasp and understanding of it and how they should vote and how they should be active in their community.”
Educator Robert Leming teaches Constitution 101 in four Indiana cities, Fishers, Indianapolis, Bloomington and Fort Wayne. “A few years ago I noticed there was this feeling going on in the public. A lot of frustration about the elections, about the Constitution and about government. Older adults hadn’t taken a civics course in a long time and they’re asking hey can the President do that or what’s up with this court and so forth. So I started the class. I’ve had over 200 graduates.”
Constitution 101 is a six-week class for adults 18 and over. It is organized by the Allen County Bar Foundation, the League of Women Voters’ Fort Wayne Chapter, and the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue Fort Wayne. It’s designed to help voters learn their rights as U.S. citizens and the importance of voting. “How do you know you have certain rights unless you use them?,” said Blackmon. “How do you know they exist unless you personally had an experience with them? It’s one of those things you shouldn’t vicariously accept. This class teaches that.”
“I think there is some voter apathy and also unfortunately a great deal of misinformation about the Constitution,” said Jim Fenton, President of the Allen County Bar Foundation. “This course is an attempt to overcome that misinformation and maybe some of the apathy as well.”
The next session of Constitution 101 classes will be held in the main branch of the Allen County Public Library downtown. They will run Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. September 26 through October 31 in Meeting Room C. There is a cost of $50 for the course and space is limited to 40 participants. You can register by going to the Allen County Bar Foundation website.