After kicking off our 2017-2018 film series with a free screening of the acclaimed documentary film Tickling Giants on September 6, the Byrd Center’s fall events calendar moved into high gear last week with two timely thought-provoking events.
On Thursday, September 14, we celebrated Constitution Day with our signature annual event, the Tom E. Moses Memorial Lecture on the U.S. Constitution. This year’s guest, Ganesh Sitaraman, a Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University and former policy advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren, discussed his new book The Crisis of the Middle Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic with a packed house. Sitaraman’s engaging talk highlighted how the current extreme levels of income disparity in the U.S. represent a distinct deviation from the relative economic equality that characterized the colonial and early republic eras in America. Audience members offered insightful questions in an extended Q&A session following the formal remarks and carried those conversations on through a reception and book signing that capped the evening’s events.
Earlier in the week, on Monday, September 11, the Byrd Center had the privilege of co-sponsoring a special public screening of the new West Virginia Public Broadcasting documentary Vietnam: West Virginians Remember with Shepherd University’s Lifelong Learning Program and Division of Student Affairs. The film is a one-hour companion to Ken Burns’ new extended PBS series The Vietnam War, and it highlights the major contributions that servicemen from the Mountain State made to the war effort. The film reveals that West Virginia was the state with the highest per capita rate of service in the war. It also reveals that West Virginians suffered the highest casualty rates. In highlighting the distinct experiences of five Vietnam combat veterans from West Virginia, the film provides intense personal personal perspectives on the toll that America’s most controversial war took on those that served.
These two events provide exceptional evidence that history and historical context can inform, and sometimes complicate, our understanding current issues and debates. We thank our all of our co-sponsors for supporting our efforts to bring engaging and relevant programming to the Shepherd University and Shepherdstown communities.