Constitution Day Observance to Focus on Struggles for Racial Justice

09/04/2008

Contributed by Marian Brown

To celebrate Constitution Day 2008, Ithaca College will honor the struggles for racial justice in the United States with a special event on Wednesday, September 17, at 4:00 p.m. in the Clark Lounge (in Campus Center).

Constitution Day is an annual observance that commemorates the September 17, 1787, signing of the United States Constitution. During this year's observance event, Ithaca College will celebrate the work of professor emeritus Harvey Fireside, who taught in the Department of Politics. Professor Fireside wrote about the significance of constitutional law in mobilizing for civil rights.

Professor Fireside died February 1, 2008, at his home in Ithaca. Politics professor Martin Brownstein will share Harvey's contributions to the Ithaca College community between 1968 and his retirement in 1996. One of Harvey's first students, Shelley Keeling, will share her memories of Harvey. Politics professor Beth Harris will discuss Harvey's most recent book, "Separate and Unequal: Homer Plessy and the Supreme Court Decision That Legalized Racism." Bryna Fireside, Harvey's widow, will review Harvey's contributions to social justice, including his scholarship.

The observance will conclude with a showing of The Jena 6, a 30-minute film about hidden racial inequality and violence that became visible in a small Louisiana town when black students tried to integrate their playground. Six black teens were charged with attempted murder after the district attorney in Jena warned high school students at an assembly that he could "destroy their lives with the stroke of a pen." In response to the discriminatory treatment of the African American teens involved in fights, the largest civil rights demonstration in the South since the 1960s convened in Jena.

This Constitution Day event is cosponsored by the provost's office, the politics department, and the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

The Constitution Day reception is free and open to the public. Guests are also invited to stay on campus and attend the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity's discussion series event, titled "Chaos or Community? Martin Luther King and the Politics of Resistance," which will be held in the Klingenstein Lounge in the Campus Center starting at 7:00 p.m.

More Info on "Chaos or Community" Discussion Series

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