20 Oct It’s National Free Speech Week!
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” –First Amendment of the United States Constitution
The First Amendment guarantees our right to free speech and press. Nation Free Speech Week is a remembrance that takes place every third full week in October and recognizes that The First Amendment was ratified on September 25th, 1789. The Media Institute introduced Nation Free Speech Week in 2003, and the first celebration launched in 2005 in collaboration with The American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Bar Association, Americans for the Arts, the National Constitution Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This week encourages us to learn more about our First Amendment right that guarantees us all freedom of speech and press, and how we can act out our rights freely. These factors are crucial when exercising our rights because they are dictated by legal doctrine and are enforceable by the Constitution and the Supreme Court.
The First Amendment is a key component in how organizers here at CoCo are able to conduct social investigations in discovering the needs and wants of our community and move public policy. South LA residents use their words to inform public officials of their opinions on what is happening in our neighborhoods. But how much we value the right of free speech is usually tested when we find a speaker highly offensive.
The Paradox of Free Speech in America Today
The First Amendment protects speech no matter how offensive its content is which allows some officials and policymakers to use their words to label and separate us from one another, which makes it easy to divide our communities. Fortunately for us, words can also remind our community that we are capable of unifying and lighting a fire in our bellies as a collective to make a positive change as well as political, social, and economic gains.
CoCo encourages you to exercise your right to free speech by letting your voice be heard. Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out about the conditions in your community. Write about what’s important to you and your community in a Letter to the Editor or as an OpEd, make a public comment on an issue important to you, or publish your thoughts on your favorite blog to bring awareness. Share your opinion on today’s topics on social media, and don’t forget to rock your right to speak up and speak out! #FreeSpeechWeek.