Professor Wendy Parker discusses “Equal Protection & Black Lives Matter” on Constitution Day

Photo of Professor Wendy Parker in the Worrell Professional Center

In celebration of Constitution Day, Professor Wendy Parker opened a discussion on applications and interpretations of the Equal Protection Clause with the Wake Forest University community on Friday, Sept. 16.

In the widely attended lecture, “Equal Protection & Black Lives Matter,” Parker asked the audience to consider the language of the clause and whether presidential candidates should be responsible for understanding contemporary Constitutional interpretations, contextualizing the discussion through the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the responses it generates.

Parker used anonymous text message polling throughout the lecture to gauge attendees’ support for the movement, to address reactionary slogans like “Blue Lives Matter” and to compare the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution to Article 9 of the South African Constitution.

In one such poll, attendees found the language of Article 9 to be preferable to that of the U.S. Equal Protection Clause, because it provided more explicit information about protected identities and actions taken to help those who have been disadvantaged by unfair discrimination.

Parker responded by encouraging the audience to consider that the more general language of the Equal Protection Clause allows its interpretation to evolve over time in response to new understandings of prejudiced or offensive views.

Constitution Day is observed on Sept. 17 to recognize the adoption and signing of the United States Constitution in 1787. Parker’s presentation generated a critical dialogue that candidly addressed issues facing the nation today while celebrating the work of the Constitutional Convention delegates long ago.

Professor Parker discusses her lecture and why she believes the “Black Lives Matter” movement is important in the article, “Constitution Day Celebration Praises Equal Rights,” published in the Old Gold & Black, the Wake Forest University student newspaper, by Natalie Miller on Sept. 22, 2016.