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Maybe #Firstonthefirst initiative can help move the needle


Maybe it was last night’s reflection on Anthony Kennedy’s final day serving as a Supreme Court justice.

Or maybe it was because I’m still recovering from the latest State of the First Amendment survey.

In case you missed it, more than one-third of the survey respondents (40 percent) could not name a single freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Only one out of the 1,009 people surveyed could correctly name all five freedoms.

That blows my mind, and I often think about what I can or should be doing differently to help move the needle outside the walls of my classroom.

So today I began what I’m calling #Firstonthefirst.

I made a commitment to talk to five strangers today and share with them about the First Amendment. I’m going to do it on the first of every month, and I hope you’ll join me.

It’s easy enough to visit with folks in line at Starbucks or the grocery checkout, or colleagues at school, or parents on the bleachers at your kiddo’s sporting event. A few minutes of conversation can make a huge difference. I want the people in my community to know the five freedoms and to have a better understanding of why the First Amendment matters.

To make a visual connection, I wore one of my First Amendment T-shirts, and I’ll do that for each #Firstonthefirst. There’s something about seeing those 45 words (or in the case of this shirt, my favorite of those 45) that makes it more memorable, and I hope to leverage the power of social media to spread this movement and get my students — and all of you — having these First Amendment conversations as well.



One of today’s highlights was Robert (left), who knew two of the five freedoms, and when he asked why I was doing this, he said he’d talk to his three grandkids later today. He asked a few fun questions about me being a journalism teacher and said he wanted to “look like a reporter” when he shared the First Amendment conversation with his family. (At first he was using “author” and “journalist” interchangeably, so we had a little follow-up about that, too!)

Maybe I’ll post other anecdotes or reactions from time to time. We’ll see.

Are you up for this #Firstonthefirst challenge? Can you help move the needle?

What gets scheduled gets done, so add it to your calendar now and join me in September (and on the first day of every month) to celebrate the five freedoms in your community and increase awareness of the First Amendment. It’s the foundation for everything else, and we need to protect it more than ever.

One Comment

  1. Yes! School begins tomorrow. 1st activity: memorize 1st amendment in one day. 2nd activity: get “45 Words tee shirt sizes. 3rd activity: try and convince principal to approve a PO for the shirts. Students required the shirts every Friday!

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