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Loyola New Orleans professor of history to give Constitution Day Lecture

Staff Reporter

Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 12:09

Mark Fernandez of Loyola University will give a lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. in the Student Union Theater in honor of Constitution Day.

“It affects your life every day in ways you don’t even think about and this is a way to have you think about it,” said William Robison, Department Head of History and Political Science.  “You hardly do anything during the day that’s not touched by the constitution in some sort of way.  The fact that somebody can’t just come to your house, knock the door down and search it without a warrant—that’s constitution.  The fact that you get to vote—that’s constitution.”

Every year, the Department of History and Political Science sponsors the Constitution Day lecture.  In previous years, the history department had professors teach on something related to the constitution that day in class, but as Robison said, “that’s not much fun.”  So a lecture in honor of Constitution Day became the new tradition.

The Constitution Day lecture has been given by a variety of people, far and near.  This year, though, the department wanted to find someone close who would speak on something not only informative, but also interesting.  Fernandez fit this role.

“He’s a constitutional scholar so he was a great person to get and he actually suggested the topic,” said Robison about Fernandez, who came up with a unique topic in regards to the constitution.

Fernandez, who entitled his lecture, “Woody Guthrie, ‘Racey Hate,’ and the Artist Struggle for Civil Rights,’ stated that, “because of my involvement in the Woody Guthrie project, I suggested this as an alternative way to consider our constitutional freedoms and how they play a part in our lives, instead of discussing laws and courts which comprised so much of my previous research.”

Fernandez will talk about Guthrie, a songwriter and social activist, and the relationships between musicians and the constitution.  As Fernandez put it, this lecture will explain how “artists and musicians can be advocates for social justice and the rights protected by the constitution and how Woody Guthrie understood that.”

As both Robison and history instructor Ronald Traylor say, the constitution is more than just elegantly written words and dry topics.  It represents our way of life, which is why it’s important to know about it.

Traylor explained how some students who took his class on the constitution entered knowing very little about what is in it and leave having read every word.  These students would tell Traylor how surprised they were about how much was in the constitution and how impacted their lives are by it.

“Well not every student takes my class,” said Traylor.  “So not every student has been exposed to it. So this is one way that we can sort of widen that net that we are throwing out there, it is a little bit wider because of programs like that.”

Robison concludes, “We’d like to put on lectures that are about important topics, but that are also fun.  I think this will be an example of that.  People will learn something they’ll benefit from, but they’ll have a good time too.”

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