This podcast about the US Constitution puts a human face on the founding document

The US Constitution UU And the rights that they consecrate arise a lot if you listen to politicians, activists, protesters or read the news in any capacity. The document is a remarkable political experiment that has guided the USA. UU Since its founding, and which has also been updated over the years as new interpretations or scenarios arise that its authors never anticipated.

Last year, The Washington Post released a new podcast by reporter Lillian Cunningham called Constitutional that explores the founding of the Constitution and its historical history. Cunningham is also the author of Presidential a podcast that examined each of the 44 US presidents. UU In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

A podcast on the history of the Constitution could be a boring topic for listeners, but Cunningham's project is the opposite: it's an attractive and fascinating look at history behind the document. It is a different view of the people who challenged the law and forced massive changes in the way it was interpreted and the people who pushed for changes in everything from allowing women the right to vote to prohibiting the sale of alcohol. The result is a listening that is absorbing and informative, and gives a more human turn to the document that governs our lives in the United States.

You can listen to Constitutional at on the Washington Post website and on podcasts from Apple, Google Play, RadioPublic and Stitcher.





Image: The Washington Post

Cunningham says that Constitutional came out of Presidential. "I thought that Presidential would be an isolated and independent project," he explains. "I really did not have audio or podcasting experience, and I thought that Presidential would be this great resource, especially during an election year for people to understand the history of every American president." But she points out that in the course of that first podcast, she fell in love with the format. "I fell in love with this idea of ​​telling stories of American history with the aim of helping people understand how the world around them is reflected and how all these figures and stories of the past are configured."

When that podcast ended, she received a series of messages from listeners asking what was next, and came up with a list of ideas for follow-up. "An exploration of the Constitution was one that continued to emerge as a suggestion from listeners," says Cunningham. He liked the idea of ​​exploring another branch of government and acknowledged that people would be interested in learning more about the Constitution and several amendments in the current political climate.

What makes Constitutional such a compelling listener is Cunningham's focus on the people behind the document. "What really ended up attracting me were the people and all these very human stories," she says. The third episode of the series "Ancestry" analyzes the history of Chief Standing Bear and how a case against the USA. UU He established that Native Americans were considered human beings according to the Constitution. In another, "Just punishment" analyzes the history of Parchman Farm and the racial nuances that helped define what constitutes a fair punishment for a crime. In "Prohibition", tells the story of Amendments 18 and 21 through the eyes of a smuggler who works in the US Capitol. UU "I was a little worried that he felt a bit dry or academic or full of legal jargon," he says, "so I made a real effort to ask myself what are the real stories here?"

She explains that she learned about the power of personality strength, courage and the wills of the people behind each of the rights granted by the Constitution.

Although it was separated from Presidential Constitutional it does not reproduce in the same format, where it uses an episode to cover the history of a part of the Constitution, or an amendment "I decided not to do that because I ended up thinking it was a bit limited, "says Cunningham. "In some cases, it made sense to tell the story of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments together as a powerful episode about race and Reconstruction, instead of separating them into three."

Cunningham says she plans to start working on another series soon, but she has not said what she will focus on later. She says that she realized during the podcast Constitutional that she had essentially put herself to cover the Congress, but she does not really know what her next project will be. "Ultimately, I want to tell stories that are the most interesting, meaningful and attractive, and I do not want to force myself to do something just to complete a set."