“Bioethics and the Body Politic” is Theme of Constitution Day 2012

Tying into the discussions already taking place around campus over this year’s Montclair Book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, “Bioethics and the Body Politic” is the theme of Montclair State University’s Constitution Day 2012. Held in recognition of the September 1787 signing of the US Constitution by the founding fathers, Constitution Day is celebrated each year on college campuses around the nation. Montclair State’s Constitution Day activities will take place on September 27 in the University Hall Conference Center beginning at 12:00 p.m.

Kicking off Constitution Day at noon will be an opening ceremony featuring a procession of student veterans and University police officers followed by words of welcome from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Willard Gingerich, and a swearing-in ceremony for around 60 new US citizens by John Thompson, District Director Citizenship and Immigration Services.

These activities will be followed at 2:00 p.m. by keynote addresses from Leslie Wilson, PhD, professor of history at Montclair State and Jessica McCormick, PhD, senior biosafety officer at UMDNJ, both of whom will discuss the underlying questions in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Wilson will address the social issues that surround the question as to whether or not Henrietta Lacks’ rights were violated and if indeed the fact that she was a poor black woman is of relevance to our civil rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. McCormick will discuss the challenges presented by the policies and regulations of bioethics then and now, and the resulting impact on our lives. Moderating the discussion will be Brigid Harrison, PhD, professor of political science and law at Montclair State.

Also scheduled for the afternoon session beginning at 3:45 p.m. is a panel discussion by student leaders who will take up the same topic and discuss their views of the questions and issues raised in the book.

Closing out the day’s activities will be a talk and book signing beginning at 7:00 p.m. by Henrietta Lacks’ son, David “Sonny” Lacks. He will be joined by his son, David Jr. and will talk about what it meant to him to find out—decades after the fact—that his mother’s cells were being used in laboratories around the world. Brigid Harrison will moderate.

Constitution Day at Montclair State is sponsored by the American Democracy Project and all activities are free and open to the public, and everyone is invited to join in the celebration. To register, visit http://tinyurl.com/2012ConstitutionDay.

For further information about Constitution Day and its events, please contact Carolyn Jones, American Democracy Project Campus Coordinator at jonesc@mail.montclair.edu.