Red, White and Blue Student Backpacks Resonate

Each year FIT’s United College Employees union sponsors a Constitution Day postcard competition.  The goal of the students’ designs is to illuminate a section of the U.S. Constitution in a contemporary context.

In 2014 Graphic Design student Sooji Lee’s first-place image referenced mass shootings in schools. At that point there had been 387 of them since 1992 with more than two out of every three shooters 10-19 years old. The Constitution grants many rights but also brings responsibilities was the stated message.

Constitution Day competition first-place design by Sooji Lee, 2014

The image of red, white and blue backpacks arranged as an American flag is haunting in light of recent events. It was reported, for instance, that in El Paso, parents and their children were shopping for backpacks and other back-to-school supplies. Demand for bullet-proof backpacks has vastly increased.

Says Troy Richards, Dean of the School of Art and Design, “This winning design of apparently innocuous objects, school backpacks, is given an emotional charge when seen in light of school shootings that have left such a devastating impact on young people and our country. In today’s fractious political climate, our differences are being exploited, the result being mounting tension and outbreaks of violence. Hopefully, these tragedies will make us pause to consider the consequences of hateful rhetoric and ask, instead, how we might come together again as a country.”

Winners of the Constitution Day competition are selected in the spring for the week of Constitution Day (September 17). To submit a design for 2020, students can email their work to [email protected] and cc: [email protected] (history professor Daniel Levinson Wilk, who helps oversee the competition).

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