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MICA Hosts Two Constitution Day Forums on the State of Democracy in America

On Sept. 19, MICA’s annual Constitution Day program will be headlined by MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid, followed by a symposium on Sept. 22, featuring three sessions on the question “What Is Democracy?”

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Constitution Day

MSNBC's Joy-Ann Reid will headline the opening panel of this year's programming around Constitution Day. The free, two-day symposium sponsored by MICA commemorates the holiday (September 17) with panels and commentary on contemporary issues in politics, government, civic engagement and activism.

This year's opening forum, entitled Is This What Democracy Looks Like?, will explore the emerging crisis that democratic institutions and government are facing due to the advent of the Trump administration. How can the country consider these issues at a time when the president, his advisors, and majority leaders in the Senate and Congress are testing the public's faith in government and its ability to represent their best interests?

"We are living in exceptional political times, where, many argue, the basic and central institutions of our democracy are threatened-by the president himself," said Constitution Day organizer and MICA Humanistic Studies faculty member Firmin DeBrabander.

He added: "How worrisome are Trump's perceived attacks? What shall we make of them, and how shall we respond? How do they measure up in the scope of history, here and beyond? For, some have exclaimed Trump's attacks are the first signs of tyranny. Is this tyranny, and if so, how will democracy survive?"

Alongside Reid, the panel will also include "revolutionary" artist Dread Scott and Kenneth Ledford, chair of the department of history at Case Western University. WYPR Midday host Tom Hall will moderate. The first day of Constitution Day programming is co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU-MD).



A second symposium, entitled What Is Democracy? and scheduled for Friday, Sept. 22, will dive deeper into the complex and often problematic issue of defining democracy, and how civic action, education and art factor into the conversation. The day culminates in a conversation between artist Mel Chin and Lester K. Spence, associate professor of political science and Africana studies at Johns Hopkins University, in which they will discuss the role of art in a democratic society and the personal role that citizens play in defining democracy.

"We are questioning our assumptions and our understanding of democracy within the United States, probing deeper into the role of the everyday citizen in defining the very concept of democracy," said Colette Vesey-Cullors, MICA's chair of Photography and organizer of the What is Democracy? symposium.

"Given the current political climate, many individuals and groups find themselves at a crossroads with regards to race, immigration, education and personal responsibility, amongst other issues. We must ask ourselves whether our actions shape our democracy or does our democracy shape our actions?"

Below is a full schedule of this year's Constitution Day events on Tuesday., Sept. 19, and Friday, Sept. 22. All events are free and open to the public, and will take place in MICA's Falvey Hall, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave. Seating is first-come, first-served.

Is This What Democracy Looks Like?
Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC correspondent and author, will headline the panel that will also include "revolutionary" artist Dread Scott and Kenneth Ledford, chair of the department of history at Case Western University. The panel will discuss the current state of democracy in America, and how President Trump's administration is functioning (or if not) as a representation of American democracy. WYPR Maryland Midday host Tom Hall will moderate. Tuesday, Sept. 19, 7 - 9 p.m. RSVP to the event here.

What Is Democracy?
• Constitution Day's second day of programming begins with "Restoring Civic Culture," a panel discussion featuring Dorcas Gilmore, founding board member of Baltimore Activating Solidarity Economies (BASE); Baltimore Youth Arts Founder Gianna Rodriguez; and community arts activist and organizer Graham Coreil-Allen. The talk will be moderated by Towson University lecturer Kalima Young. Friday, Sept. 22, 12:30 p.m.
• "Educating for a Democratic Society" will feature Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen, Liberty Elementary Principal Joseph Manko, M.A. in Teaching Director Adriane Pereira, and North Avenue Knowledge Exchange Program Coordinator Khadija Adell. The talk will be moderated by Marketplace Education Editor Amy Scott. Friday, Sept. 22, 2:30 p.m.
• Artist Mel Chin and Lester K. Spence, associate professor of political science and Africana studies at Johns Hopkins University, discuss the role of art in a democratic society and the personal role of citizens in defining democracy. Friday, Sept. 22, 5 p.m.

Established in 2005, Constitution Day continues the College's tradition of leadership in raising and exploring important political issues. This year's Constitution Day officially launches a new College-wide initiative MICA Making Democracy, which advances MICA's core values in response to changes in the cultural and political landscape. Events surrounding themes of democratic practice, civic action, freedom of expression, immigration, equity, citizenship, information literacy, the public good, and the role of art and design in moments of change and upheaval will be supported through this initiative.

This page was last updated on 09/11/2017.