Khizr Khan never intended to be an activist. He also never intended for his own child to be deployed to Iraq and to later need to bury that child. Tragedy drove Khizr Khan to cement himself in political history.
Khan’s moment of fame came when Hillary Clinton asked him to speak out against then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. His speech went viral due to the chilling moment when he held a copy of the United States Constitution and said:
“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our their future. Let me ask you: have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law,’” said Khan.
“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?” Khan continued, pocket-sized Constitution in hand, “Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending the United States of America — you will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Fairfield University will host Khan at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Khan will present a lecture as part of the Open VISIONS Forum titled “Defending Human Dignities.”
In his lecture, Khan will speak about humanitarian protections, dignities and liberties that he believes the Constitution provides to American citizens.
Students are excited to attend the event to learn more about Khan. “Before hearing about the event, I didn’t really know who Khizr Khan was. I heard about him flashing the $1 pocket size Constitution at then-candidate Donald Trump and that is probably what I am interested in hearing about most,” said Maya Pacelli ‘19.
A Harvard Law graduate, Khan immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan with his wife, Ghazala, in 1979.
They went on to raise three children, and lost one – Captain Humayun Khan – in 2004 during his service in Baqubah, Iraq. Humayun Khan was later awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. The death of his son would be the motivator for Khizr Khan’s activism.
In 2017, Khan authored a book titled, “American Family: a Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice.” The book tells the story of his immigration to the United States. The Washington Post called it one of the top five memoirs of the year.
“Moving . . . a story about family and faith, told with a poet’s sensibility . . .” The New York Times review said, “Khizr Khan’s book can teach all of us what real American patriotism looks like.”
During that same year, Khan also released a book for kids called “This is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father,” that educates them on why the Bill of Rights matters.
Khan’s story is one that lends itself to the modern American Dream. A story that, despite being full of tragedy, is also one full of hope.
The evening with Khan is a part of The 21st Annual Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lectureship, in affiliation with the Carl & Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. Tickets are still available to purchase for the event on the Quick Center website.
In the wake of Veteran’s Day, The Mirror remembers all of our veterans including Capt. Humayun Khan, son of Khizr Khan.