“We all have a stake in being part of thinking Americans who move this country forward,” said Michael D’Innocenzo, Professor of History and the Harry H. Wachtel Distinguished Teaching Professor for the Study of Nonviolent Social Change at Hofstra University, in a poignant speech commemorating Constitution Day in the Guthart Cultural Center Theater.
Addressing an audience of high school and college students, faculty, and community members this morning, Prof. D’Innocenzo examined the guiding principles that led to the formation of the American Constitution.
He expressed a need to build upon the ideals of liberty and freedom for all people set forth by our founding generation. He also highlighted the importance of individual participation in government and society to encourage reform and to promote values of tolerance and acceptance. “The Constitution gives us a sense of the larger agenda to make America into a more inclusive society,” Prof. D’Innocenzo noted. “An agenda which still gives us challenge today.”
“These days it seems the Constitution has become a weapon used by some political groups who have an agenda that is guided by ignorance,” said Bernard Firestone, dean of the Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (HCLAS), who introduced Prof. D’Innocenzo. “That’s why a dedicated Constitution Day, in the right hands, can spark real discussion and change.”
Following the presentation, an intergenerational roundtable discussion encouraged people of all ages to come together to discuss the issues that impact our country today and ways to solve them. “I was interested in questions raised related to wealth inequality and how we, based on the Constitution, need to become more involved as a community in raising awareness of this disparity,” said Michelle Raymondi, a freshman with a double major in political science and public relations.
Other related events included readings of the Constitution by students and faculty in the student lounge of the Hofstra University Maurice A. Deane School of Law from 10 a.m. to noon.
“The Constitution is an agenda for human rights–about creating a society that benefits the many, not the few,” explained Prof. D’Innocenzo. “We need to learn how to link individual liberty with a sense of community.”
The event was sponsored by HCLAS, along with the Hofstra Cultural Center and the Center for Civic Engagement.