Law Day 2016 Celebrated in Cedar Rapids: Students Urged to Push for Positive Changes
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Law Day is an annual event originally conceived in 1957 when the American Bar Association suggested recognizing a special national day to mark our Nation’s commitment to the rule of law. It was made official in 1961 when Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official recognition date.
Last year the Cedar Rapids community came together for the first time to celebrate Law Day with area high school students. The theme, “From Selma to Cedar Rapids” highlighted civil rights workers’ fight for civil rights and included a discussion of the Selma marches for the right to vote. The connection between historical events and current day issues were examined. Area students participated in a symbolic march along the river starting at the Federal Courthouse and ending at the Veterans Memorial Building, which was followed by a day of programming.
Today, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa joined community leaders in a special day of celebrating Law Day 2016. The theme, Mighty Times: The Children’s March highlighted how youth can serve as catalysts for positive social change. This historical event eventually brought segregation to its knees when in 1963 young people in Birmingham, Alabama braved arrest, fire hoses, and police dogs to protest injustice. The connection between this event and current day issues were examined in a series of breakout sessions.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett made opening remarks during which he delivered a Proclamation declaring today as Law Day 2016 to three students from area high schools. The Proclamation read, “Law Day is an occasion of public acknowledgement of our Nation’s and Iowa’s heritage of justice, liberty and equality under the law.” By celebrating Law Day in Cedar Rapids, it is hoped to promote a better understanding of the roots of our freedoms and serves as a reminder that even the youngest members of our society can effect positive social change.
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, Kevin W. Techau, stated that today’s program is aimed at challenging students to think about the fundamental ideals upon which this country was founded and reminded them that they have the power to put their energy and skills to work for the common good. Techau added, “To challenge one another – and our nation – to aim higher; to become better.”
The keynote speaker for this year’s event was Betty C. Andrews who serves as the President of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP. She touched on the subject of racial equity and stressed engagement by young people to make a difference in their community by serving as positive change agents. Andrews challenged the students to dream big and dream bold.
Metro High School Principal, Dr. Carlos Grant, has been a key participant in the planning and execution of Law Day this year and last. He stated, “Law Day is a special time for people to appreciate the liberties afforded to us as Americans. The core essence of it is to cultivate a sound respect for the law and our democratic way of life. I believe it is critical that we engage young people in relevant activities related to the law. Oftentimes, our young people do not know about the power they possess and how their passion can ensure their ability to thrive. This year's focus on how young people fight against segregation laws in 1960's Birmingham, AL will be a catalyst for modern teens to impose positive social change.”
Area high school students were invited to participate in program activities designed to encourage them to be a positive change agent in their community. Follow this event at: #CRLawDay2016.
L to R: USA Kevin Techau, Betty C. Andrews, Dr. Carlos Grant
Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.