White House proclamation urges support for Bill of Rights Day — today!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WASHINGTON — The White House has issued a proclamation encouraging all Americans to honor and support tomorrow the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, Dec. 15, 1791.

“The promise of enumerated rights enabled the ratification of the Constitution without fear that a more centralized government would encroach on American freedoms,” the proclamation signed by President Barack Obama says in part. “In adopting the first ten Amendments, our Founders put forth an ideal that continues to define our Nation — that we can have both liberty and security, that we need not sacrifice the rights of man for the rule of law.”

A White House spokesman also said the White House would tweet its support for the Bill of Rights tomorrow. That would coincide with the Free to Tweet contest, a daylong online celebration of First Amendment rights. High school and college students nationwide can win one of 22 $5,000 scholarships through “Free to Tweet” tomorrow only, Dec. 15, the 220th anniversary of our right to free expression.

Beginning at midnight EST tomorrow, students ages 14 to 22 can tweet their support for the First Amendment with the hashtag #freetotweet, which will enter them in the “Free to Tweet” scholarship competition. Students are encouraged to express themselves freely in their entries, which can be posted on any publicly viewable social media platform, including blogs.

The “Free to Tweet” contest ends at midnight PST.

“Free to Tweet” encourages Americans of all ages to join with students in reinvigorating national celebration of Bill of Rights Day by expressing their appreciation for the First Amendment on social media.

Joining in support of “Free to Tweet” are performing artists such as Ke$ha, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Frankie Ballard, Joe Nichols, Wynonna Judd, Darius Rucker, John Oates, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Heart, The Civil Wars, Sarah Jarosz, Elenowen, Jana Kramer, Joanna Smith and Jason Crabb. These celebrities, along with educators, reporters, and other Americans nationwide, will be tweeting tomorrow.

All student posts that include the hash tag #freetotweet will be considered for the scholarship competition. Only one tweet is required for entry, however students are encouraged to enter as many times as they wish.

More information, including contest rules, frequently asked questions and judging criteria, is available at FreeToTweet.org.

“Free to Tweet is one of the easiest scholarship contests students could possibly enter. All it takes is 140 characters,” said Ken Paulson, a founder of the 1 for All campaign and president of the American Society of News Editors. “Tomorrow, we hope all Americans will help us celebrate Bill of Rights Day and reflect on the freedoms we dare not take for granted.”

Bill of Rights Day was first established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in late November of 1941. Just days later, however, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War II. The holiday declaration was largely forgotten.

Also part of 1 for All’s daylong celebration of Bill of Rights Day tomorrow, the Newseum in Washington D.C. will host 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 RSVP to attend the free gathering.

Students can enter the scholarship competition by tweeting a message of support—using the hash tag #freetotweet—for the First Amendment. The tweet can be self-contained or link to original content on a website or other social media platform. A panel of educators and First Amendment experts will review the entries and award 22 $5,000 scholarships, one for every decade since the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

“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.

Also see: The holiday that got away: why we need to honor the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15

Celebrating Bill of Rights Day


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