CLEAR LAKE — University of Houston at Clear Lake makes one man’s passion to educate the community a reality by installing a replica of the Liberty Bell.
The full-scale replica will be presented to the public at a special dedication from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 in the north lobby of the university’s Bayou Building, 2700 Bay Area Blvd.
Associate professor of legal studies James Benson has been at the center of this project that is finally coming to fruition.
His desire to teach does not stop in the classroom. He wants it to continue outside the classroom even if it’s a quick history lesson as a person walks through the university.
“The Liberty Bell reminds us of our liberty, the freedoms we enjoy and sometimes forget,” Benson said. “At UHCL, the replica of the bell will also provide those visiting it a chance to learn about history, an opportunity to see an exact copy of something they may get to see in person.”
The replica of the bell at UHCL was cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, England, creators of the original 1752 Liberty Bell housed in Philadelphia. It will bear the inscription on the original bell: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.”
Benson says the project grew from his realization that many students in primary, middle, junior and senior high schools, and therefore many of his own college students, didn’t always receive the civics and history lessons they needed.
He wanted to do something to change that and constructed a plan of action that included developing courses addressing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; elevating UHCL’s Constitution Day celebration; facilitating educational partnerships with external institutions like the National Constitution Center; and bringing a replica of the Liberty Bell to UHCL to make it accessible to all. By hosting the special Liberty Bell dedication on Constitution Day, Benson makes two of his four ideas a reality.
“I wasn’t surprised how many people were excited about the Liberty Bell,” Benson said. “It gives UHCL alumni and community friends another way to show their support of education.”