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Cornel West Headlines Constitution Day, Sept. 20

Free Symposium Also Features Activist Lisa Fithian and Artist Lize Mogel

Posted 08.01.12 by mica communications

Cornel West, Ph.D.

BALTIMORE--This Constitution Day, MICA and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU-MD) will hold a free symposium to discuss the widely debated topic of freedom of assembly and political speech on Thursday, Sept. 20 from 7-9 p.m. in Brown Center's Falvey Hall, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave. The panel, moderated by WYPR's The Signal producer Aaron Henkin, will include provocative scholar and activist Cornel West, Ph.D.; political organizer Lisa Fithian; and artist Lize Mogel, who creates insightful maps about political issues.

This year's symposium centers on the widely debated topic of freedom of assembly and political speech. All over the nation and the world, hundreds of thousands of people are coming together and, through the act of public assembly, making visible the grievances and hopes they collectively share. These global protest movements have had such an impact that Time magazine named "The Protester" the person of the year in 2011.

"We're thrilled to convene this panel of experts to discuss this timely topic," said Constitution Day organizer and MICA Chair of Humanistic Studies Firmin DeBrabander. He noted the panel will consider essential questions about the constitutional right to organize, including: "What kinds of assembly are protected, and why are they threatened? Why is it essential to freedom, and what is its unique power? How do large assemblies-like the Occupy movement-affect how the public perceives and understands abstract political issues?"

"This Constitution Day, the ACLU is pleased to join with MICA to present an exciting discussion of how public spaces are being both claimed and restricted as zones of political expression," said Susan Goering, executive director of ACLU-MD. "Over the last year, the nation watched as demonstrators, partly inspired by the Arab Spring protests, challenged America's notions of acceptable protest and use of public space when they occupied parks near Wall Street and in communities across the country. Political camping is not a new form of protest, but it is one that has tested American ideals of free speech since early in the last century."

In addition to free tickets distributed in advance to the MICA community, a limited number of free tickets will be available to the general public on the day of the event.

About the Constitution Day participants:

Cornel West, Ph.D.: Known for his combination of political and moral insight and criticism, Cornel West, Ph.D., focuses on the role of race, gender and class in American society. A graduate of Harvard and Princeton, he is a prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America and is currently a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he teaches religious philosophy and Christian practice. He is the author of 19 books, including Race Matters, a collection of thought-provoking essays that addresses a number of controversial issues of concern for African Americans. Besides appearing frequently on Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, CNN and C-Span, he has also been included in more than 25 documentaries.

Lisa Fithian: Lisa Fithian is an American political activist who has been organizing for justice since 1975. Using nonviolent direct action, Fithian has organized hundreds of events and demonstrations on a range of issues. From coordinating a shut down of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., to organizing with janitors, nursing home workers and autoworkers, Fithian has used a wide range of strategies and tactics for social, economic and environmental change.

Lize Mogel: Artist Lize Mogel creates and disseminates counter cartography, or mappings that produce new understandings of social and political issues. Working with the interstices between art and cultural geography, she connects the real history and collective imaginary about specific places to larger narratives about globalization. She has mapped public parks in Los Angeles, future territorial disputes in the arctic and wastewater economies in New York City. She is co-editor of the book/map collection An Atlas of Radical Cartography and co-curator of the traveling exhibition An Atlas. She has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, the Graham Foundation, the LEF Foundation, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Danish Arts Council for her work.

Aaron Henkin: Moderator Aaron Henkin is co-creator and producer of WYPR's radio arts program, The Signal, and host of Stories from the Stoop. His news reports and features have aired nationally on programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Day to Day and PRI's The World. Henkin is also the curator and host of a weekly podcast called The NPR Station Showcase with PRX, during which he highlights outstanding stories from fellow producers at public radio stations around the country.

Art has long been a method of expression, and artists throughout history have been instigators of change-engaging society in conversation about pressing issues. Established in 2005, Constitution Day continues the College's tradition of leadership in raising and exploring important political issues.


Image caption: Cornel West, Ph.D.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.

Lisa Fithian


Panelist Lisa Fithian

Lize Mogul


Panelist Lize Mogel