Beginning at midnight on Dec. 1 through 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 15, students at a high school, community college or university ages 14 and up can tweet their support for their favorite First Amendment freedom, using the hash tag #FreeToTweet, which will enter them in the “Free to Tweet” scholarship competition.
The initiative is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and organized by 1 for All, an unprecedented educational and public service campaign that builds understanding of the First Amendment and its five distinct freedoms: speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. There will be one winning tweet for each of the five freedoms.
“Our ‘Free to Tweet’ competition was an unprecedented celebration of the First Amendment, marrying emerging media to traditional American values,” said Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center and founder of the campaign. “This year, we’re encouraging students nationwide to think about our most fundamental liberties and tweet about the First Amendment freedom that means the most to them.”
All Americans are urged to join the online celebration by tweeting their support for the First Amendment and help reinvigorate the often-overlooked Bill of Rights Day. In late November of 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Dec. 15 a national holiday on the 150th anniversary of the amendments’ adoption, declaring Americans “will not, under any threat … surrender the guarantee of liberty our forefathers framed for us in our Bill of Rights.” Just days later, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War II. The holiday declaration was largely forgotten.
Last year’s campaign received more than 17,000 submissions in one day, including a tweet of support from the White House. The “Free to Tweet” campaign is supported by artists such as Ke$ha, Blake Shelton, Wynonna Judd, Heart, Brad Paisley and many others.
Students can enter the scholarship competition by tweeting a message of support – using the hashtag #FreeToTweet – for their favorite First Amendment freedom. A panel of educators and First Amendment experts will review the entries and award five $5,000 scholarships. Judging criteria and complete rules can be found here. Updates on the event can be followed on Twitter at @FreeToTweet2012.