“It is hard to exercise your rights if you don’t know your rights”: Constitution Day highlights the First Amendment


Michael Sullivan

Co-chair of the history department Mickey Huff spoke to students on Sept. 18 in the student union. (Michael Sullivan/The Inquirer).

Micheal Sullivan, Staff member

History and social science professor Mickey Huff wrestled with topics ranging from censorship to fake news during Constitution Day at Diablo Valley College on Sept. 18 in the Student Union building. 

Huff led a discussion with a room full of students about topics related to The First Amendment. Talking points included free speech, the right to read, propaganda, media coverage, and many more important topics. Huff made censorship, and fake news the primary focus, and presented his books Censored 2020, and the United States Of Distraction for any students who want to learn more on the topics. 

“It is hard to exercise your rights if you don’t know your rights,” said Huff.

During the event, Huff spoke about how the rise of fake news makes it harder to find good sources, and even how his friends have been accused of being influencers of Russia because of their reporting. However, the right to read and protection of the First Amendment in today’s climate remained his main talking points. Huff wanted students to know their rights out of concern that some people aren’t interested in their own liberties.

Some students expressed strong opinions about their First Amendment rights. Celeste Orrick said she was concerned with free speech. Jaiden Aengus said he attended the event not only because it was a requirement for his political science class, but because of his personal concerns about the press.

“I feel the freedom of the press has been decayed,” said Aengus.

Huff gave out a handout about the upcoming Banned Books Week event that happens every September. According to the Banned Books Week Handbook, the event is “a celebration of the freedom to access ideas.” 

Students can honor “books, comics, plays, art, journalism, and much more” during the event, according to the Banned Books Week handbook.

Huff shortly talked about the upcoming event, but had other important things to say on the students’ rights to read. According to him, he believes students can pass on what they learned about the First Amendment to fellow students. 

“Students can raise awareness of their rights by talking to their peers,” said Huff.

Constitution Day is once a year on September 18, 2019, the date it was ratified.  Protecting the First Amendment for Huff, Aengus, and Orrick, is important, as it is for all American citizens, even if some don’t know what liberties it protects. One of the important goals this year was to raise awareness of these rights protected under the constitution.