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1 for All: Standing up for the First Amendment
By Ken Paulson
Welcome to 1 for All, an unprecedented national campaign on behalf of the First Amendment.
The campaign launched on July 1, with extraordinary support from more than 1,100 news, educational, arts and religious organizations. In print, online and through a variety of social media, these “Friends of 1 for All” have joined together to build understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment through education and information. The five freedoms of the First Amendment give Americans the right to speak freely, to report about the world around us, to protest and petition, and to draw strength from freedom of faith.
Yet despite its pivotal role of making America what it is today, most Americans have no idea what the First Amendment says. First Amendment Center surveys indicate that only one American in 25 can name the freedoms of the First Amendment, and that a majority — when pressed — can come up with only one, typically freedom of speech. It’s constitutional illiteracy of the highest order.
The truth is that we don’t do a very good job of standing up for the First Amendment. Its five freedoms are truly the cornerstone of democracy and make America the special nation it is.
It’s time we said that. Publicly. Passionately. Over and over again.
1 for All is the collaborative effort of educators, artists, journalists, lawyers, librarians and many more who believe that the American public would benefit from a greater understanding of the First Amendment and the need to protect all voices, views and faiths.
The campaign features ads that celebrate freedom in America and the ways we exercise those freedoms in our daily lives. The First Amendment gives us freedom of speech, but it also provides freedom to tweet. It protects political speeches, but it also guarantees our right to sing, dance and perform.
In fact, the First Amendment enriches our lives every day. That’s the essence of 1 for All. The campaign is defined by these guiding principles:
- 1 for All is nonpartisan. At a time of deep political polarization, we choose not to take sides. In fact, a shared commitment to freedom of speech, press and faith should unify this nation.
- It’s all about education. America’s teachers would like to do a better job of teaching about the First Amendment, but they often lack the resources they need. 1 for All will provide educational materials, course content and study guides for teachers of grades 1 to12. In addition, 1 for All and its Liberty Tree Initiative will sponsor campus festivals celebrating and exploring of First Amendment freedoms.
- 1 for All is interactive. There’s no point in celebrating free expression without encouraging some of it. Students and others will be encouraged to submit photos, videos, songs and stories that reflect the value of freedom in America.
- The focus is on all five freedoms. America’s news media are quick to defend freedom of the press, and churches embrace freedom of faith, but these freedoms are interdependent and deserve the full support of all Americans. We can’t pick and choose the freedoms we like.
1 for All is a celebration of the freedoms that truly make America special. It’s not a coincidence that the strongest, most dynamic, most creative and most ambitious nation in the history of the planet is also the most free.
Ken Paulson is a founder of 1 for All, the president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center and the former editor of USA Today.
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