20th Annual First Amendment Days Celebration

20th Annual First Amendment Days Celebration

by Anessa Olson

“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.” This is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. These five freedoms are an essential part of American law and culture, and are woven into the fabric of our lives in ways both large and small. From big nation-wide protest movements to the clothes our children wear to school, the First Amendment gives us the freedom to speak out, to express ourselves and share who we are. This is a messy process. We don’t always agree when we speak out about what we believe in, but we have the freedom not just to speak, but also to listen. We are free to explore new ideas, new ways of thinking.

 These freedoms are essential to our democracy, and with it comes the responsibility to listen to one another, to recognize the power that our freedom gives us.  That is why the theme of this year’s First Amendment Days celebration is “Dare to Speak, Dare to Listen.” In a time when we seem divided, we invite you to celebrate with us the fundamental freedoms that tie us together. Iowa State University and the Ames Public Library present a series of events celebrating the five freedoms of the First Amendment. These events are an opportunity to hear from activists, scholars, and experts of all kinds.

  • Sunday, April 10, 2pm. Ames Public Library Auditorium. 
    Judge Rosemarie Aquilina made national headlines when she gave the young women victimized by Larry Nassar a voice in her courtroom. Join GIRLS Power of Ames as Judge Aquilina offers advice to young women on making their voices heard, and advice to the rest of us on listening to them. 
  • Monday, April 11, 6pm. ISU Memorial Union, Cardinal Room. 
    Judge Rosemarie Aquilina will talk about how she gave victims a voice in her courtroom during the Larry Nassar trial. 
  • Tuesday, April 12, 7pm. Ames Public Library Auditorium. 
    Controversies about library materials are an important issue right now.  Join us for a panel discussion to learn how libraries protect your freedoms, support the community, and represent diverse perspectives.  Representatives from Iowa State University Library, the Ames Public Library, the Ames Community School District, and the Iowa Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee will share how libraries choose materials and support the community. Questions from the audience are encouraged. Participate in person or online. 
  • Wednesday, April 13, 6pm. Online.
    Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America, and the author of “Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All.” She will be speaking about free speech in an educational setting, laying out the issues and discussing recent events.
  • Thursday, April 14. Central Campus.
    Enjoy free food, fun and festivities of the five freedoms. Sandwiches, ice cream and T-shirts are first come, first served. 
  • Friday, April 15, 9am-1pm. Online.
    Join experts from around the country for a workshop on the First Amendment. We’ll be discussing everything from censorship on campus to censorship in Russia. 

Throughout the entire week, the Iowa State Library and the Ames Public Library will also have displays of books celebrating the First Amendment. For kids, the Ames Public Library will also be offering sign kits, inviting children to express their own views by making a yard or window sign saying what they believe. Stop by anytime during the week of April 10th to pick up a sign kit and a great read about the First Amendment.  We look forward to seeing you this year at the First Amendment Days, as we celebrate our shared freedoms and the ideals that bind us together.

For more information about the First Amendment Days, visit the library website at www.amespubliclibrary.org, and the First Amendment event page at https://greenlee.iastate.edu/experience/first-amendment/first-amendment-days