New Monument to 1st Amendment in Charlottesville, Va.

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By: E&P Staff

As part of a new monument to the First Amendment near Charlottesville, Va.?s City Hall, people will be invited to write their thoughts on a giant chalkboard seven feet high and 42 feet long.

The April 20 dedication ceremony will include a keynote address by Dahlia Lithwick, legal affairs reporter and commentator for Slate magazine and National Public Radio?s ?Day to Day? program, and opening remarks from Dave Matthews Band?s Boyd Tinsley, author John Grisham, and former Virginia Poet Laureate George Garrett.

The monument, includes the chalkboard made of natural Virginia slate and a podium to encourage the exercise of First Amendment Rights. The First Amendment is inscribed on part of the slab, opposite a quote from Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall: ?Above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content. To permit the continued building of our politics and culture, and to assure self-fulfillment for each individual, our people are guaranteed the right to express any thought, free from government censorship.?

That quotation was selected by local high school students. A quote from John Milton, a close runner-up, will be inscribed on the front of the lectern: ?Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.?

The monument, dubbed The Community Chalkboard and Podium, is a project of and will be maintained by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

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