FAU's On Trial for Freedom Of Speech, Possible Statue In Capitol, Miami Art Week Preview.

Dec 6, 2017

How well does the first amendment protect government employees? This is the question on trial right now at a West Palm Beach court.

James Tracy, a tenured Florida Atlantic University communications professor was fired in 2016 after a long dispute with school. In his blog and in a chapter for a book called Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, Tracy defends his opinion that the school shooting incident in Connecticut of 2012 was a hoax perpetrated by the government.  20 children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. Tracy also engaged in a public argument with the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the massacre.

FAU claims that Tracy was fired over labor disputes and because of his controversial ideas about Sandy Hook. Tracy alleges he was fired for his beliefs. Recently, Tracy has taken FAU to court over his firing, he is seeking to be reinstated and back-pay.

First Amendment scholar and professor of law at University of Miami School of Law, Caroline Mala Cobrin, talks about free speech and how it specifically relates to government employees.

Also, Florida lawmakers are discussing the possible use of educator Mary McLeod Bethune’s likeness to replace the statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall.

SB 472, one of similar bills introduced at the Legislature in early October, proposes the use of Bethune’s statue to represent the Sunshine State at the Statuary Hall.  Each state has two statues representing it at the U.S capitol in Washington D.C. The selected statue would complement John Gorrie’s figure, the man considered the father of air conditioning. The two other nominees considered to represent Florida are Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Everglades activist and writer, and George Washington Jenkins Jr, Publix grocery store founder.

Bethune was humanitarian, stateswoman, philanthropist, who founded a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida. The school she founded developed into Bethune-Cookman College, a Historical Black College.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Bethune as a national adviser in what was known as his Black Cabinet. She went on to advise four more U.S. presidents.

Dr. Ashley Robertson, assistant professor of African-American Studies at Bethune-Cookman University, is the author of: Mary McLeod Bethune in Florida: Bringing Social Justice to the Sunshine State.  She joined us in the program to talk about the latest developments regarding the replacement, Bethune’s role in Florida’s history and why she is the best choice to be immortalized at Statuary Hall.

Finally, Miami Art Week is underway, the week-long festivities culminate with Art Basel.  Locals and tourists alike ready themselves for a week filled with art, music, shows happening in Miami Beach, Wynwood and Downtown. The different shows and exhibits cater to all audiences and budgets.

Cathy Byrd, host of the Fresh Art International podcast, prepared a list to all the events happening around the city. While many of the shows are paid entrance, there are many public and free exhibitions that the public can enjoy. Byrd recommends to plan ahead, arrive early and take advantage of public transportation.