By Zack Bennett
Lander University hosted its annual Constitution Day program on Sept. 13. This year’s program, entitled “The Constitution Today: Why it Matters to You, to Us, and the Future,” featured University alumna Kierra Brown ’14 as a guest speaker.
“Following the events of 9/11, Congress, in a desire to stimulate patriotism, devotion and rekindle appreciation of our system, passed the Constitution Day Act in 2005,” said Dr. Ashley Woodiwiss, chair of the Department of Government, Criminology, and Sociology. “This is our seventeenth Constitution Day event, and it’s going to be a special one with a very special guest.”
“It is my pleasure to bring Kierra back to campus,” said Dr. Lucas McMillan, dean of the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences. He reflected that upon meeting Brown for the first time in 2010 that she “emphatically” told him that she wanted to be an attorney. “And I believed her,” he said. “She has stayed with that passion, that curiosity, that excitement for life ever since we first met.”
Brown began her talk by exploring why societies need governments, referencing the philosophies of John Locke, an English philosopher of the 17th century. She pointed to his idea that citizens are naturally free and equal. “You might remember the line from the Declaration of Independence that you have the inalienable right to life, liberty and property,” said Brown. “We of course know that as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“Sometimes individuals decide that it benefits the public good that in exchange for some of their rights, to have an institution or government in place that can guarantee stable and pretty happy lives,” she said. “That means they maintain infrastructure, they protect individual rights, promote an education system and assist the elderly, disabled and poor.”
Brown continued by exploring the Constitution’s effect on Supreme Court case rulings, the way language in the document is perceived and how the Constitution has impacted her professional life as an attorney prior to opening the floor for audience members’ questions.
“Ms. Brown did an excellent job explaining the Constitution and how it is a living document,” said Cici Avila-Cabrera, of Greenwood. “The Constitution is one of the most important documents in our country and it is important for me as a citizen to educate myself as much as possible.”
“I had an opportunity to to talk to Ms. Brown both before and after the program and it was such a great experience,” said Avila-Cabrera. “I left the program feeling more confident than ever that my education at Lander will prepare me for anything that I take on after I graduate.”
The University’s bell tower of Laura Lander Hall was rung at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, to commemorate the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.