ASU In the News

License restrictions block getting more nurses where needed

Doctors and health care workers in hard-hit areas of Michigan have been begging for assistance as they struggle to treat gravely ill patients.

The situation grew so dire at Detroit’s Sinai-Grace Hospital on April 5 that night-shift nurses in the emergency room refused to work unless more nurses were brought in, according to WJBK. Stressed hospital administrators told the nurses to either work or go home. To fill the gaps, some remaining emergency room personnel found themselves working 24-hour shifts. Download Full Image

To lend a hand, many older doctors and nurses have come out of retirement, but licensing restrictions are an obstacle to them crossing state lines and going where the needs are greatest.

One scholar has a suggestion for reducing the burden this is placing on the medical profession.

Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University, says states should revise their professional licensing rules to allow a concept known as universal license recognition. If Michigan did this, licensed medical professionals from other states could go there and go right to work.

“States are looking for ways to get more medical professionals to the front lines of the fight against the spread of the virus,” read a recent press release from Arizona State University.

Article Source: Michigan Capitol Confidential

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

History student overcomes obstacles to graduate with master’s degree and honors

April 20, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Madeline Stull has made the most of her Arizona State University education. The Scottsdale native always knew she wanted to go to graduate school and saw Barrett, The Honors College and the 4+1 program as opportunities that were too good to pass up. Madeline Stull Madeline Stull will be graduating this spring with her bachelor’s and master’s in history and minors in Arabic studies and civic and economic thought and leadership. Download Full Image

“I have always been an avid reader, which always made me quite curious,” Stull said. “Since elementary school, I have been looking forward to attending college to fill that curiosity. As it turns out, it simply grew larger.”

Stull was granted many awards while at ASU including a Friends of the Center research grant from the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Norman Family scholarship from Barrett, The Honors College, a School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership Travel Grant and most recently, a Fulbright scholarship to study in Serbia after graduation.

Stull underwent chemotherapy while going through school and at times felt isolated, but she pushed forward and took hold of each liberty that came her way. Starting out as a researcher in the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, she was able to work with history Professor Chouki El Hamel, who offered her another opportunity.

“Due to my background in Arabic, we were a great research pair — leading to my position as the first employee in the Center for Maghrib Studies,” Stull said. “His help and support motivated me to submit a chapter of my undergraduate thesis to a conference in Poland, which was the only paper accepted from an undergraduate.”

Stull will be graduating this spring with her bachelor’s and master’s in history and minors in Arabic studies and civic and economic thought and leadership. We caught up with her and asked her a few questions about her time at ASU.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: Being a student at ASU taught me the importance of finding your own community. More than once I felt alienated, ostracized and misunderstood by numerous groups on ASU's campus, especially during the period I was undergoing chemotherapy. It was discouraging, and quite honestly, disappointing. I expected more from such an "inclusive" university. Fortunately, I found that inclusion in small groups of people on campus. My network in the history department and the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership have made me feel more at home in an academic setting than any other place or group. Their smiling faces and pointed critiques mean more to me than they will ever know. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. Chouki El Hamel and Dr. Carol McNamara have both taught me, and continue to teach me, that individuality and personal values are at the core of being an incredible scholar. They have shown me both how to accept myself and how to use that acceptance to continue growing in academia. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Looking forward while staying present. There are so many opportunities out there, and you will never know unless you start looking early. Try your best to identify what you want and write it down. Then plan accordingly, so that you can both accomplish what you want while being able to have time for yourself. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I love the mall in front of Old Main as well as the new library. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: As of now, I plan to go to Serbia for a year on a Fulbright. Afterward, I intend to get a PhD in Eastern European history somewhere. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Education for all, though I am not sure $40 million is enough to solve a global issue.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

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Students, faculty talk 'Race and the American Story'

April 14, 2020

Annual symposium has transitioned to 'Zoomposium' with events though April 28

In the nearly 200 years since his death, Thomas Jefferson has been remembered in many ways by many people, and not without controversy.

Harvard Law School Professor Annette Gordon-Reed and University of Virginia Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor Emeritus Peter Onuf — co-authors of the New York Times bestseller “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination” — acknowledged as much in a discussion of the Founding Father earlier this month.

“Jefferson is such an interesting character. I think the working premise for both of us was that we weren’t satisfied with stereotypical understandings of him; loving him or hating him too much,” Onuf said of his and Gordon-Reed’s collaborative process while writing their book.

Gordon-Reed agreed, adding, “It was about trying to understand this human being, who we’re still talking about in 2020, on this new medium.”

The medium Gordon-Reed was referencing was Zoom, where their discussion kicked off the annual Race and the American Story symposium, which brings together students and scholars to talk about race and American culture.

Due to the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, the symposium — originally scheduled to be held March 18–21 at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee — was turned into a “Zoomposium” this year, hosted by Arizona State University’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership.

The Zoomposium features four of the originally planned major lectures in an online format and welcomes members of the community to participate, in addition to students and faculty.

The lectures run through April 28 and cover such topics as the famous James Baldwin-William F. Buckley Jr. debate of 1965, in which the civil rights activist and the conservative commentator, respectively, faced off on the subject of the country’s racial divides.

The next lecture, “Race and American Sports,” will take place at 1 p.m. MST, Friday, April 17, and will feature Aram Goudsouzian, professor of history at the University of Memphis and author of “King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution.”

Race and the American Story is a national educational project that involves faculty and students from universities across the country, including ASU, the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) and the University of Missouri. It began in 2014 when Adam Seagrave, currently an associate professor at ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, and Stephanie Shonekan, currently a professor of Afro-American Studies at UMass, were colleagues at the University of Missouri.

As racial tensions on campus escalated following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Seagrave and Shonekan felt compelled to act.

“I was teaching a course, an earlier version of Race and the American story, and an African American student of mine shared that a number of her white friends at the university were no longer her friends because of the tensions on campus that arose after the Michael Brown shooting,” Seagrave said. “That really brought home to me that we needed to do something to address this.”

Adam Seagrave

Associate Professor Adam Seagrave.

Shonekan had already been spearheading a campuswide program to orient students to the values of the university and address issues of racism, so he reached out to her and the two combined forces to create the Race and the American Story project. Since then, the project has spread to their new homes at ASU and UMass.

Over the course of a semester, students enrolled in the Race and the American Story course read about and discuss issues of race both historical and contemporary. This spring, Seagrave and ASU T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics Associate Professor Eleanor Seaton co-led a discussion with students on select articles from The New York Times 1619 Project, which aims to reexamine the legacy of slavery in the United States.

“Our ultimate hope for the project is to create community and build friendships across differences among students and faculty that otherwise wouldn’t have been likely to develop,” Seagrave said. “There’s something about the learning environment that is really conducive to developing really good relationships, and I think students experience that through the camaraderie that comes with reading the same things, discussing the same topics and then finally coming together for this symposium at the end of the semester.”

During Onuf and Gordon-Reed’s Zoom discussion of Thomas Jefferson, they covered everything from his relationship with Sally Hemings (Gordon-Reed is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family”) to how his understandings of race might have influenced his ideas about American citizenship.

Toward the end of the discussion, students had a chance to ask Onuf and Gordon-Reed some questions. ASU political science undergraduate Cormac Doebbeling wondered if they thought Jefferson considered how the Declaration of Independence might pertain to people of other races and genders in the future.

“I’d be skeptical that he could have ever seen the notion of a nonwhite majority America,” Onuf said.

“I think it would have been hard for him to come to the idea that people who had been enslaved in this country could come to love it,” Gordon-Reed said.

In any case, while Jefferson may not have been able to foresee what the future would bring, what matters to Seagrave is how we choose to deal with the realities of modern-day life now.

“I always try to ask my students to lead with love in all of their interactions with each other,” he said. "On another level, I think perspective is really difficult to obtain when you’re living in a particular historical moment, so I hope the deep historical reflection we take in the course gives students some valuable perspective on contemporary issues that allows them to embrace the idea of really respecting each other as human beings and having that as the basis for their interactions with each other.”

Top image courtesy of Pixabay.

ASU In the News

Making pandemic-related occupational license reform permanent

Whatever changes to life, social norms and civil and economic liberty that COVID-19 ultimately leaves in its wake, there's one potential outcome that many would like to see: the end of occupational licensing.

So far, the crisis has inspired at least some suspension of barriers to the movement of doctors and nurses across state lines. That's just the beginning of what should become permanent changes, says Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow for Arizona State University's Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. (Sara Eshleman/U.S. Navy/ZUMA Press/Newscom)

"We will learn many lessons as a result of this period in history," Slivinski said. "Hopefully one of them will be the benefits of a reduction in the barriers that occupational licensing policies create — not just today in the fight against the coronavirus, but in the future as a means to increase human well-being."

The ASU scholar's work helped to inspire both the Obama and Trump administrations to seek not just licensing reciprocity, but to roll back licensing requirements in their entirety for many jobs.

Article Source: Reason

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

ASU In the News

ASU researcher says Arizona licensing law could spur US economy

Last April, Arizona became the first state in the nation to enact universal licensing recognition.

Since Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2569 into law, Arizona has allowed universal recognition for occupational licenses in an effort to remove barriers for employment. (Getty Images/Spencer Platt)

Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow with ASU’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty could not agree more — especially amid the outbreak of COVID-19.

Slivinski believes that current licensing policies in place around the country hinder productivity by adding “possibly thousands of hours of duplicative training, or thousands of dollars’ worth of additional fees” to both professionals and businesses.

He not only believes such policies are particularly detrimental within the context of the current health crisis, but also that the elimination of such licensing polices could help the U.S. economy recover from the coronavirus outbreak.

Article Source: KTAR News

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

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Crisis into creativity

“Pandemic Dialogues” webinars to discuss great works of philosophy, lit.
Thursday webinar on imagination is part of new Social Distancing Socials.
March 31, 2020

ASU scholars explore how trying times influence creative minds

For advice during the present COVID-19 crisis, we need look no further than Shakespeare: “Have patience and endure.”

The line comes from “Much Ado About Nothing” and is spoken by Friar Francis to the bewildered Hero after she is suddenly left alone at the altar on her wedding day. But the sentiment is likely something the Bard of Avon learned from experience — his life was marked by several plague outbreaks, during which he often passed the time in isolation by writing.

In fact, a recent article on the subject quoted ASU Foundation Professor Jonathan Bate’s biography of Shakespeare, “Soul of the Age,” which reads, “Plague was the single most powerful force shaping his life and those of his contemporaries.”

And they’re not the only ones. Across time and space, some of the most reflective and enduring narratives were inspired by such widespread crises. Now, thanks to the magic of the internet, students and scholars across Arizona State University will be able to maintain social distancing measures while exploring the relationship between crisis and creativity.

This Thursday, Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination, and Torie Bosch, editor of Future Tense, will host a webinar titled “When Crises Unleash Your Imagination” as part of a new, biweekly series of interactive conversations via Zoom, called Social Distancing Socials.

And beginning Monday, April 6, ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will be hosting “Pandemic Dialogues: Conversations on Civic Crisis,” a series of live webinars, each discussing a great work of philosophy or literature on pandemics and civic crisis, as well as a podcast series discussing Camus’s novel “The Plague.”

“From one perspective, life is always a crisis and art is always a response to that crisis,” Finn said. “We’re always trying to make meaning and beauty out of all the things we’re struggling through.”

One example of that is Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” Finn is the co-director of the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project, an initiative that engaged scholars at ASU with the public around issues of science, technology and creative responsibility.

“Frankenstein is absolutely an example of art coming out of suffering,” Finn said.

Shelley wrote the novel while shut up for the entire summer of 1816 in a house at Lake Geneva in Switzerland with a group of fellow writers. Their isolation was due to the volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora, which was so massive it caused a change in global weather patterns, resulting in crop failure and famine. Combined with the personal traumas Shelley had withstood throughout her life — her own mother died giving birth to her and Shelley herself lost a baby in infancy — she had plenty of fodder for a novel that contemplates life, death and suffering.

“The art that people create out of isolation or out of extreme events is sometimes a way of processing those events,” Finn said. “Sometimes it’s about sharing an experience with other people, whether to normalize it or even just to name it, that process is really important.”

Storytelling can also be a way of coping via distraction, said Ian Moulton, professor of English and cultural history in ASU's College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. For example, in Italian scholar Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron” (which will be the focus of SCETL’s second “Pandemic Dialogues” webinar), a group of 10 wealthy young people tell each other stories to pass the time while quarantined in a Tuscan villa during the Bubonic plague.

“It’s kind of like how we’re binge-watching nowadays,” Moulton said. “We need some space from dealing with the unpleasant realities that we can do little about, and that seem random and meaningless.”

And it’s not just consumption of creative works that serves as a healthy distraction, but the creation of them.

“In some cases, great crises have led people to the most extraordinary creativity,” said Bate, noting that Shakespeare was primarily an actor before an outbreak of plague in 1592 shut down theaters across London, causing him to stay home and develop his skills writing poetry.

One of the first plays he wrote after the theaters reopened was “Romeo and Juliet,” a key plot point of which has to do with plague: The reason Romeo does not know that Juliet is only sleeping and not dead is because the messenger charged with delivering that information to him was quarantined before he had the chance. Later in Shakespeare’s career, when plague once again sent him into isolation, he began writing long, profound tragedies like “King Lear.”

Though challenging times can indeed engender more somber narratives, Finn for one takes heart in the belief that any creative endeavor is a testament to humankind’s willingness to continue imagining new outcomes.

“The biggest silver lining I’ve seen in the pandemic we’re living through right now is that we’re using our imaginations to think of other people more,” he said. “A lot of people are making choices, sometimes drastic choices, in an effort to protect strangers, people they might never meet. That kind of imagination is fundamental if we’re going to survive not just this pandemic but all the other challenges coming our way. Things like climate change require us to imagine a responsibility for others that goes beyond just close family and friends.

“We’re starting to do that, and we’re seeing what’s possible; we’ve already massively reduced our carbon footprint, the California government is talking about housing the homeless, we’re having conversations about sick leave and medical care that would never have happened before. … I just hope we can come out of this hanging onto that shared sense of responsibility.”

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

Emergency changes to occupational licensing laws should persist after pandemic, expert says

March 27, 2020

The demand for doctors and nurses has been growing for years, but it’s never been more urgent since the sudden arrival of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S.

States are looking for ways to get more medical professionals to the front lines of the fight against the spread of the virus. Doctors and nurses in many states have come out of retirement. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Yet, it is hard to quickly increase the number of doctors or other medical professionals in a state because state laws make it difficult for medical professionals to simply move into and quickly begin to practice — temporarily or otherwise — in a new state.

To better understand how states can address the current and future pandemics, we talked to Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow for Arizona State University's Center for the Study of Economic Liberty.

Stephen Slivinski

Question: What are some challenges that prevent states from increasing the number of medical professionals in a state to assist in this pandemic?

Answer: States require a license to operate in many occupations — like a doctor or lawyer, but also very often those that don’t require a college diploma, like a barber or a landscape worker, for instance. Even if you have a license in your state of origin, moving to a new state often means having to get a whole new occupational license. This requires lots of time, particularly in terms of required training hours that may be unnecessarily duplicative. That could mean substantial time out of the workforce and discourages voluntary movement of workers from one place to another. In the case of the fight against the novel coronavirus, it consumes time that many patients and doctors simply don’t have.

Q: Is there a solution to this problem? 

A: There is a solution to this problem. It’s an idea that began to gain popularity before the widespread appearance of COVID-19. It’s an idea that I discuss and explain in my newest study from the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at ASU: “You Can Take It With You: A Case for Occupational Licensing Reciprocity.”

Q: What is universal license reciprocity?

A: Perhaps better described as “universal license recognition,” this is when a state agrees to recognize a license in good standing from another state and grants a new state license to allow the new resident to work immediately. It’s the equivalent of how states treat driver’s licenses from other states, except in this case for occupational licenses.

Q: Are any states using universal license recognition to assist in the pandemic?

A: Massachusetts, Maryland and Colorado are just three of more than a dozen states that have quickly transitioned to some form of universal recognition of medical licenses over the past few weeks. In their current form, these are only temporary — it has the force of law as long as the executive orders that mandated this policy change remain in effect.

A more durable and long-lasting universal recognition of out-of-state license will require change of state law once legislatures return to regular order. At that time, states — like Utah, for example — can follow the lead of states like Arizona and Pennsylvania that have already passed such a reform.

Q: Why is universal license recognition important?

A: Universal recognition of licenses isn’t just an important response to a radically increased demand for medical professionals in a pandemic. It will also be important to many other types of workers once the pandemic passes. It’s too early to tell what the economy will look like when that happens. The economic consequences of differing responses state governments have taken to slow spread of the virus will impact each state differently. Consequently, the economic recovery will be just as varied.

Therefore, when the freedom of movement has been restored and things begin to get back to normal, discouraging people from moving to where the best economic opportunities for them are will hinder both their economic well-being and that of states as a whole. Keeping occupational licensing barriers in place would be like instituting a different form of “shelter in place” — this time, it would be one of an economic sort by restricting their job opportunities and their economic mobility.

We will learn many lessons as a result of this period in history. Hopefully one of them will be the benefits a reduction in the barriers that occupational licensing policies create — not just today in the fight against the coronavirus, but in the future as a means to increase human well-being.

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

ASU In the News

Utah has become a national leader on occupational licensing reform

The Utah Legislature just passed Senate Bill 23, which implements several significant reforms to current licensing laws.

Utah joins Arizona in taking the lead to make it easier to move into their state, and several other states have proposed similar laws. Arizona became the first state to accept out-of-state licenses last year, and it's already making an impact. In that first year, over 750 people have used the law to take their talents to Arizona. That’s 750 more professionals, plus their spouses and children, who were able to move for a better life for themselves and join communities and grow the local economy. Utah Senate floor is viewed during the Utah legislative session in Salt Lake City (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) In this Jan. 27 photo, the Utah Senate floor is viewed during the Utah legislative session in Salt Lake City.

In addition to breaking down barriers for individuals looking to move to Utah, the legislation also makes important reforms for current residents who may have made a mistake in their past. Overly broad "good moral character" provisions from licensing requirements are removed for many professions.

Having good moral character is important, whether we’re talking about a friend or a professional service provider. However, in practice this provision is used to exclude qualified professionals for past mistakes that are unrelated to the service they provide. It hurts the formerly incarcerated trying to turn their lives around and increases recidivism, according to a policy report by the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty.

Article Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

5 facts about Arizona's birthday you didn't know

Valentine's Day isn't just a day of romance, it's the day the 48th state joined the union

February 12, 2020

Feb. 14, 2020, marks the 108th birthday for the state of Arizona. To commemorate the state's rich history, Sean Beienburg, an assistant professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and an expert on Arizona’s founding, constitution and history, has identified five little known facts about the state’s origins and early years.

1. President Taft thought Arizona’s constitution was “legalized terrorism” and initially prevented statehood

Article 8 of the proposed Arizona Constitution established protocols for recalling elective officials, including judges. For President William Howard Taft, a former and future judge, this was unacceptable. He called it “legalized terrorism” and blocked Arizona from becoming a state. Arizona State flag with a blue sky in the background "Arizona flag" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 Download Full Image

By a 9-to-1 vote, Arizona voters dutifully added a clause to their recall section, clarifying that it was for all elective officials “except members of the judiciary.” Taft then approved statehood, but once Arizona secured its status in the union, the state legislature moved to restore the judicial recall provision, with a provocative title: “An Act to Amend Sec 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution of the State of Arizona as adopted under coercion, (directed by William Howard Taft, President of the United States).”

2. The Arizona flag was created for a rifle competition

The flag’s design resulted from the not-quite-yet state feeling left out. In 1910, an Arizona rifle team competed in a marksmanship contest in Ohio. Among the sharpshooters was future congressman and senator Carl Hayden. (Hayden Library is named after Carl’s father, Charles Hayden, a Tempe founder). Charles Harris, the future adjutant general of the state’s national guard and another member of the team, was primarily responsible for the design (with possible help from Hayden), and Nan Hayden, Carl’s wife, sewed the first official flag, which was adopted by the state legislature in 1917.

The central star recognizes the importance of copper and the setting sun has 13 rays as a nod to the original American colonies. Like New Mexico’s flag, the rays bear the colors of the Spanish banner brought by Francisco Coronado to the area in 1540.

3. No reptiles were allowed in the Arizona seal

The design of the Arizona seal — which is actually the center of ASU’s formal seal — is specifically laid out by the Arizona Constitution (Article 22, Section 20). It replaced the territorial seal, which had featured a deer in front of a cactus. Morris Goldwater, the vice president of the convention (and Barry’s uncle), argued they should keep it: “Any man who has lived in this territory under the present seal as long as I have can continue to live with it until he dies, without hurting himself.”

However, convention delegate E. E. Ellinwood argued that the new seal should “get away from cactus, Gila monsters, and rattlesnakes ” and focus on the state’s developing industries, and so a miner, a cow, a mill, a farm and a dam became the symbols of Arizona. The constitution did not change everything on the seal: It still retains the Latin state motto, “Ditat deus,” or God enriches.

4. The Arizona Senate once voted to destroy itself

In June 1912, in the first special session of the state legislature, the state Senate voted to commit “suicide,” as the local papers described it. Not literally, but in the sense of dissolving the body in which they served.

Many Progressive Era critics of James Madison’s system of complicated checks and balances argued the government should be made simpler, with fewer structures to obstruct the popular will. They argued, in other words, to have the system rebalanced to lean more toward efficiency instead of the Madisonian preference for liberty. To that end, the Senate proposed that Arizona’s progressive constitution should be made even more like direct democracy through a unicameral legislature — or a legislature with just one body, not two.

The state’s newspapers had great fun with this, but not as much as the House of Representatives. Members proposed a variety of sarcastic amendments to the Senate abolition proposal, such as giving the “County of Hunt” — as in Gov. George Hunt — a vote, but others proposed banning either all the members of the Senate from voting in the future or stripping representation from the county whose members had most fervently backed the proposal.

A citizen initiative to abolish the state Senate failed by an almost 2-to-1 margin in 1916, and, like all states except Nebraska, Arizona retains two legislative houses.

5. Arizona’s first chief executive was like George Washington — if Washington had sought to be president for life

Like George Washington did for the federal government, Hunt served as the president of the Arizona constitutional convention and then as the state’s first chief executive.

Unlike Washington, however, who declined to run after eight years in office to make clear that leadership was temporary, Hunt ran repeatedly almost until his death, serving a total of seven, two-year terms between 1912 and 1933. This included coming back after several defeats, including suing his way into office after Republican Thomas Campbell, who had initially been declared the winner, had served for almost a year.

The Arizona governorship was so tightly connected to Hunt that, in 1931, writer Will Rogers jokingly asked to be adopted by Hunt, since Arizona evidently had a “hereditary” governorship. Hunt’s final loss was a defeat by fellow Democrat Benjamin Mouer, and Hunt died soon after. But perhaps viewing himself as a pharaoh of old, Hunt had himself buried in a white pyramidal tomb overlooking the Valley, which you can visit in Papago Park.

Professor Sean Beienburg, an assistant professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, is in the process of developing a living repository for the state of Arizona, documenting and preserving founding documents, mementos and firsthand accounts from the state’s founding moments as part of the Arizona Constitution Project. When completed, the repository will be a free resource for Arizona citizens and constitutional scholars to study Arizona’s founding. 

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Annual MLK Day lecture considers range of perspectives on activism

January 23, 2020

Scholars discuss intellectual, ideological diversity of civil rights movement at ASU

Two of the nation’s most respected scholars of race and politics visited Arizona State University’s Tempe campus Wednesday to participate in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day lecture, “Citizenship and the African American Experience.”

The lecture is part of the school’s continued efforts to foster civic discourse, featuring a variety of public programming and dialogues.

School Director Paul Carrese welcomed a crowd of nearly 100 faculty, students and community members before introducing the invited speakers, Angela Dillard, the Richard A. Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, and Peter Myers, professor of political science and U.S. constitutional law at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Carrese noted that earlier in the day, the scholars had visited with students and faculty on campus, where they had viewed the Civics Classics Collection at the recently remodeled Hayden Library. The collection is a collaboration between the library and the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership to build a body of rare books and manuscripts intended to support the school’s mission of civic education through use in classroom environments and public programming.

The collection includes copies of King’s first two books, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” and “Strength to Love,” as well as a first edition of the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, another civil rights leader who was discussed at Wednesday evening’s lecture.

“The Martin Luther King books help to tell the story of political figure who had enormous influence, even though he was never elected to political office,” Carrese said.

The focus of the lecture was how “the civil rights movement was marked by an intellectual and ideological diversity that incorporated a wide range of perspectives in debates about the nature of citizenship and the ‘proper’ strategies for civil rights activism.”

In her introductory remarks, Dillard discussed some of the topics and figures she will explore in her forthcoming book, “Civil Rights Conservatism,” which she said highlights the extraordinary diversity in black political culture. Among those featured in her book are: James Meredith, the first African American admitted to the University of Mississippi, known for his opposition to affirmative action; Mildred Jefferson, the first African American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School; and Joseph H. Jackson, whom Dillard called “one of the most influential civil rights activists you’ve probably never heard of,” notable for his denouncement of King and the demonstrations he employed.

Dillard’s book also addresses what she refers to as the problem with monumental history, wherein historical moments become so revered that facts become distorted.

“The (March on Washington) has been so broadly celebrated today that it’s easy to forget how divisive it was in 1963: 22% of the population had a favorable view of the march, while 63% of the population had an unfavorable view,” she said, adding that the efficacy of the march was even debated within the NAACP.

Myers began his address with a question he asks of students in his American political thought course: What is America’s birth year?

“Answers vary,” Myers said. “Some say 1776The United States Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4, 1776. or 1787The Constitution of the United States was signed by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787.. Some say 1492Italian explorer Christopher Columbus introduced the Americas to Western Europe during his four voyages to the region, beginning in 1492. or 1607Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, was founded in May of 1607.. Some say 1865In 1865, the American Civil War ended with the surrender of the Confederate States, beginning the Reconstruction era of U.S. history.. Every once in a while, some say 1954In 1954, racial segregation in public schools was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Brown vs. the Board of Education.. But to the best of my recollection, no one yet has said 1619. I expect that will change.”

Myers was referring to The New York Times’ 1619 Project, an ongoing endeavor that began in 2019, 400 years after the arrival of the first enslaved people in America from West Africa. The project means to reexamine the legacy of slavery in the United States.

The project was met with criticism in the form of a letter to The Times from a group of historians expressing their reservations about its intention “to offer a new version of American history in which slavery and white supremacy become the dominant organizing themes,” and The Times’ plan to make the project available to schools in the form of curriculums.

Carrese asked Dillard and Meyers what they thought of the project.

“I’m a huge fan,” Dillard said. “I love it because it’s public history. It was a project put together to be able to say that we want to harness professional historians and speak to a larger public, repair some of the damage that’s been done in the American educational system for how slavery is taught or not taught … but it also tells the lived experiences of the African Americans themselves.”

Later, during the audience question and answer session, an attendee asked whether Dillard and Myers agreed with the historians’ concerns that using The Times' project as curriculum in schools might obfuscate the more positive aspects that played a role in America’s founding.

“Our job as educators is to tell the truth as best and as honestly as we can understand it,” Myers said, and that means teaching opposing arguments and contradictions, as well.

For the past two centuries, Myers said, the two greatest advocates of justice and race relations have been Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. In their speeches, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” and “I Have A Dream,” respectively, “both ask the questions: Who are the true sons of the fathers? Who are the legitimate offspring of the founders? They answer, not the slave owners and segregationists but the abolitionists and the integrationists.”

Other civil rights leaders felt differently about the founders, such as Malcom X. “How marginal was a figure like him,” Carrese asked, in his opinion that there was nothing of value in the Constitution for black leaders?

“The relationship of African American thinkers, artists, activists and leaders to the past is fraught,” Dillard said. They have to ask questions like, “Is this our past? Is there something usable there? Is there something about which we can be critical but still salvage something of value?

“There are a range of positions. Malcom X famously said you didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on you. It’s a clever, relatable quip but it’s a serious position to take to say that we are the people under that rock, this is not part of our own heritage. And it’s hard to find a figure whose relationship to the past isn’t contradictory.”

And King was no exception. He wrote sometimes about being the “good son” of the founders, Dillard said. “Other times, he said the dream has become a nightmare. … So one speech doesn’t define everything they have to say about a topic that is so complex and so deeply vexing.”

Top photo: School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership founding director Paul Carrese (left) moderates a discussion with Angela Dillard, a professor at the University of Michigan, and Peter Myers, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, during the school's annual Martin Luther King Day lecture, Citizenship and the African American Experience, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Carson Ballroom. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now