The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Dec 15, 2011

#FreeToTweet scholarship competition helps celebrate the First Amendment

Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Today, in celebration of the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, students are being encouraged to share via social media how they enjoy their right to free expression.

Through midnight tonight, students ages 14 to 22 who creatively tweet their appreciation for the First Amendment using the hashtag #FreeToTweet will automatically be entered into a nationwide scholarship competition.

The Knight-funded scholarships (there are 22 of them - one for every decade since the Bill of Rights’ ratification) are worth $5,000 each.

Several celebrities will also voice their support for the First Amendment and will be encouraging their followers to be #FreeToTweet. They include Ke$ha, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Heart and Wynonna Judd.

Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center, wrote an editorial about the importance of honoring the Bill of Rights titled “The holiday that got away”. He writes:

“Last year, a group of educators, journalists, artists and others banded together to help build a greater understanding of the First Amendment with a nonpartisan  and educational campaign called 1 for All. Obviously, the First Amendment leads off the Bill of Rights, and we thought there might be a way to rekindle FDR’s dream of a national celebration, particularly this year, on the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.”

The scholarships are just part of a larger celebration of the Bill of Rights at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The afternoon includes a musical celebration of the Bill of Rights and will be followed by a panel discussion and the release of a teacher’s guide, “Using Social Media to Teach about the First Amendment.”

The teacher’s guide is aimed at fostering discussion and appreciation for social media and the First Amendment. It is being released in response to a national study done earlier this year that showed that as social media’s popularity grows, so does First Amendment appreciation - yet many teachers don’t believe social media helps students learn.

Follow the celebration via the livestream and @1forallus on Twitter

Knight’s press release about its support for the nationwide awareness campaign to celebrate freedom of expression is available online.

Back to top