Thousands tweet for freedom

Thursday, December 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — “Free to Tweet” today calls on all Americans to celebrate Bill of Rights Day by sharing their appreciation for First Amendment freedoms and specifically encourages student participation with a novel competition offering $110,000 in scholarships for the best tweets. Thousands nationwide are participating, all using the hashtag #freetotweet.

The White House tweeted: “Happy Bill of Rights Day! The US continues to stand with citizens & governments around the world who empower free expression. #FreeToTweet”

See the real-time Twitter feed.

Musical artists are among those tweeting today. Some examples:

Blake Shelton: “I sing what I want, the way I want to. That’s freedom. Support 1st Amendment 12/15. Win $5k scholarship. http://1forall.us/freetotweet/ #freetotweet”

Brad Paisley: “With all the nations struggling for freedom,today is the day to count our blessings. Start with good ol’ amendment number 1 #freetotweet”

Wynonna Judd: “Love your Freedom of Speech? Then tweet #freetotweet today and express yourself.”

Ann Wilson of Heart: “Shake that pelvis, Elvis! Freedom of expression! Support 1st Amendment 12/15. Win $5,000 scholarship. http://1forall.us/freetotweet/ #freetotweet”

And here are some sample tweets posted so far:

Samantha Melton
“Roses are red, violets are blue. Without the first amendment, i wouldn’t even be tweeting you! #freetotweet”

Eli Alpern
“@1forAllus.. post the black, post the white, post the wrong, post the right, post the sour, post the sweet, post it all, youre #freetotweet”

Chinh Doan
“It matters what young people say about the First Amendment because each generation re-interprets these fundamental rights.”

Greer Schneider
“Without the 1st Amendment our mouths might as well be taped shut.”

Maria Amante
“Of all the amendments, #1 is my #1. #FreeToTweet”

Ashley Brue
“This tweet and all others proudly brought to u by the first amendment! #freetotweet”

Brent C. Folan
“I am #FreeToTweet because of all the men and women who have protected this right by serving in the military. #proudtobeanamerican”

Jessica Lynn Crain
“Happy B-day 2 u, Happy B-day 2 u, Happy B-Day FIRST AMENDMENT, Happy B-day 2 u!! #FreetoTweet”

Shannon Moreau
“We talk, we laugh, we read, we write, we sing, we dance. Freedom of speech rocks! #freetotweet”

Ben Jamin
“The First Amendment goes viral. #freetotweet”

Lorena Valentino
“#FreeToTweet tweets and stones may break my bones but the First Amendment stands behind me!”

The celebration and scholarship contest, which began at midnight, continues until 11:59 p.m. today, Dec. 15. Today is national Bill of Rights Day — and the 220th anniversary of its signing — established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in November 1941. Just days later, however, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War II. The holiday declaration was largely forgotten.

All student posts that include the hashtag #freetotweet will be considered to win one of 22 $5,000 scholarships. Only one tweet is required for entry; however, students are encouraged to enter as many times as they wish. Students must be between the ages of 14 and 22 to qualify for the contest. More information, including contest rules, frequently asked questions and judging criteria, is available at FreeToTweet.org.

“Americans nationwide are speaking out about their freedoms of expression, making this the largest celebration of Bill of Rights Day in our history,” said Ken Paulson, a founder of the 1 for All campaign and president of the American Society of News Editors. “All it takes is 140 characters. We hope all Americans will take time to celebrate these essential freedoms with #freetotweet today.”

Also part of 1 for All’s daylong celebration of Bill of Rights Day, the Newseum in Washington, D.C., is hosting an afternoon conference exploring the role of social media in shaping young people’s sense of First Amendment principles. Educators and members of the public can go to the 6th Street entrance of the Newseum and mention that they’d like to attend the free gathering.

“Free to Tweet” 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.

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About 1 for All
1 for All is a non-partisan, educational campaign that was launched in 2010 to address a general lack of awareness by the American public about the five freedoms afforded by the First Amendment. Initial support for campaign was provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Newseum, McCormick Foundation, American Society of News Editors, First Amendment Center and Gannett Foundation. In addition, more than 1,000 news organizations, religious groups and educational institutions have devoted their time and resources in support of the 1 for All campaign. More information at 1forall.us.

About Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. More information at knightfoundation.org.

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