Lamar to host Constitution Day lecture Sept. 17
Lamar University will host the seventh annual Constitution Day event Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Lamar Institute of Technology Multi-Purpose Center. This year’s event will feature speaker J. Lee Thompson, professor of history, at Lamar University. Thompson will discuss how British documents played a role in shaping the American Constitution in his lecture, “The British Roots of the American Constitution.” The lecture is free and open to the community.
Theresa Storey Hefner-Babb, associate professor of history and instruction coordinator at the Mary and John Gray Library, said the Constitution Day event is a federally mandated program intended to better familiarize communities with the documents the nation is built upon.
“Young people today don’t realize how much the Constitution impacts their lives. Especially in an election year such as this, and with some of the things that have transpired this year, like the Supreme Court decision on the health care law,” she said.
Thompson said as a historian, everything in history has its own history. The Constitution Day lecture is an opportunity for him to discuss the history behind American history and the people and documents that influenced it.
“The people from the 13 colonies are direct descendants from Britain,” he said. “The American Constitution is grounded on things like the Magna Carta and the British Bill of Rights.”
Thompson said he will discuss comparisons and relationships between the two nations’ governments and their foundational documents.
“The lecture is about English traditions in history and how they have influenced what happened over here,” he said. “In the Constitution we have copied the British Parliamentary system. They have a House of Commons we have a House of Representatives. They have a House of Lords we have a Senate. They have a king and we elect a king every four years called the president.”
Hefner-Babb said members of the community are encouraged to attend the lecture. Lamar faculty is encouraged to have students participate as well. Students involved in programs that require them to attend cultural or academic events may benefit from the lecture, but all students will benefit as well.
“Some speech classes require students to listen and critique a speaker at an event,” Hefner-Babb said. “We are encouraging teachers to mention it in their classes and try to tie some sort of incentive for students to attend. If they can tie it to an assignment, then that is even better.”
The event is informal. The lecture will last about 30 minutes with time for questions to follow. Refreshments will be available after the lecture.