June 17, 2020
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the cornerstone of our American democracy. It prohibits the government from infringing on five of our most important freedoms: religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, millions of African Americans and their allies have exercised these freedoms to stand against systemic racism.
For nearly a month, communities of everyday Americans have maintained the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protests decrying the racial injustices inflicted daily on African Americans have occurred in every state of the Union, ranging from hundreds of thousands gathered in large cities, to single individuals on rural street corners. These protests have encouraged individuals around the world to stand in solidarity with Americans seeking to build a more just society.
The First Amendment protects our right to imagine, discuss, and disseminate ideas, and to bring those ideas to fruition. It protects our ability to create the ‘more perfect union’ the Founders hoped future generations of Americans would develop. In short, the First Amendment allows us, as a society, to evolve. But our society cannot evolve unless everyone’s voice is heard equally. Thus, the First Amendment Museum will strive to bring diversity in thought, experience, background, socioeconomic status and race together in our programming to facilitate hard conversations.
As a non-partisan institution, we affirm that standing in solidarity with the African American community, with the Black Lives Matter movement, and with all who resist injustice and oppression by exercising their First Amendment rights is not – and cannot be – a partisan position. Exercising one’s First Amendment rights is essential to the soul of our democracy.
The mission of the First Amendment Museum is to inspire people to live their freedoms. Today, we commit to diversifying our staff and Board, and to developing programming that amplifies marginalized voices, facilitates dialogue, encourages debate, and fosters listening, so everyone can truly live and love their First Amendment Freedoms.