Constitution Day returns with campus celebration



by Luke Glaser

There will be a demonstration of our Constitutional rights outside the Main Building on Friday. Leave the torches and pitchforks at home, however; books will be the only tool used.

Sept. 17  is Constitution Day, and the Gaines Center for Humanities, which does a book reading every year, moved their festivities to coincide with the holiday. To celebrate our right to read, the center will host  a banned book reading.

Banned books have a long history in  the U.S., and range from classics like Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” to “The Adventures of Captain Underpants.”

“We will be celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment in our lives,” Dr. Robert Rabel, head of the Gaines Center, said. “Even if info and ideas are unorthodox, they deserve to be heard.”

Readers include associate provost in the College of Agriculture Mike Mullen, who will read from “The Grapes of Wrath.” As banned books have an international history, Harald Hoëbusch of the German Department will read from Thomas Mann, whose writing was banned by the Nazi Regime. During breaks, banned music will play. As the Constitution protects us all, everyone is invited to come and read from 9 a.m. -3 p.m. on Friday between the Main Building and Patterson Office Tower.

“It’s a BYOB event,” Rabel said. “Bring your own books.” Provided, of course, that those books have been banned.

The Citizen Kentucky Project of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center and the Discovery Seminar Program of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence are teaming up with the Gaines Center for Constitution Day festivities.

From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. a variety of activites will take place such as voter registration, an election preview, and  presentations  from special guests including Trey Grayson, Kentucky Secretary of State, Mary John O’Hair, dean of the College of Education, Kelley West, middle school social studies teacher at  Christ the King School  and Al Cross, member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.  There will also be free pie, lemonaid and copies of the constitution.

Buck Ryan is  the professor teaching the freshman Discovery Seminar class, Citizen Kentucky: Journalism and Democracy, which is helping organize the Consitution Day event.

“I have been involved in Constitution Day at UK since the beginning,” Ryan said. “This will be the best one in six years.”

Ryan explained that in the past UK has highlighted its award-winning debate team, hosted a Freedom Forum concert featuring banned rock music or invited public officials to talk about the first time they voted for president.

“This year we are focusing on what UK can do to improve civic education for kids in the Commonwealth,” Ryan said. “It will take a team effort by civic leaders, elected public officials, journalists and other good citizens, including the kids themselves.”

Ryan explained that all his Citizen Kentucky public forums over the last decade carried the same invitation: “Come for two minutes or two hours, whatever makes sense for you.”