Letters to Martin: Meditations on Democracy in Black America

February 8 @ 7:00 pm 8:30 pm


The First Amendment Speaker Series presents Randal Maurice Jelks, professor, a documentary producer, and award-winning author. His latest book Letters to Martin: Meditations on Democracy in Black America (Chicago Review Press, Jan 11, 2022) evokes Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and contains twelve meditations on many of the public issues currently faced by citizens in the United States—economic inequality, freedom of assembly, police brutality, ongoing social class conflicts, and geopolitics. 

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Professor Jelks was an executive producer of the documentary I, Too, Sing America: Langston Hughes Unfurled and he currently teaches American Studies, African Studies, and African American Studies at the University of Kansas. His writings have appeared in the Boston Review and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and he also serves as co-editor of the academic journal American Studies.

First Amendment Museum



Virtual Event

Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) share their thoughts on the importance of the First Amendment in advancing democracy.

U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine)

“[The First Amendment] enabled us to remain a free people, it enables us to engage in the rigorous debate that we have in this country, and to communicate with one another freely.”

– Senator Angus King
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)

“Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of all other freedoms.”

– Senator Susan Collins

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Celebrate the 230th Anniversary of the Ratification of the Bill of Rights on December 15th

The five essential freedoms that empower the people to actively engage in the democratic process were not enumerated in the original Constitution drafted at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, but were added in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was ratified. Those five freedoms—religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition—are safeguarded and preserved in the First Amendment to the Constitution. In honor of the 230th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment Museum hosts a virtual celebration on this historic day. Listen to the remarks of U.S. Senators, historians, lawyers, journalists, and advocates on the importance of the First Amendment in advancing democracy.

A Double-Edged Sword: Reflections on 230 Years of First Amendment History

Left to right: Speakers Dmitry Bam, Annette Gordon-Reed, and Peter Onuf

The First Amendment gives voice to those who might otherwise go unheard and empowers Americans to create change in our society and government. It can also be used to prevent change from happening, to silence minorities, and to keep privilege in position. Each action is seen by some part of the population as an effort to create a more perfect union. On the 230th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, join FAM Board member Peter Onuf, celebrated law professor and historian Annette Gordon-Reed, and noted Constitutional law professor Dmitry Bam as they reflect on the ways we have used the First Amendment as a tool to both transform society and to secure the status quo.

Recorded Live Zoom/FB Event on 12/15/2021

Watch & Learn:
Importance of the First Amendment: Remarks by U.S. Senators from Maine

Left to right: U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine)

The First Amendment Museum shares remarks from U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) on the First Amendment’s importance in advancing democracy.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)

U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine)

Watch & Learn:
Our Freedoms at Work

Left to right: Jennifer Rooks, Chelsea Miller, and Destie Hohman Sprague

The First Amendment impacts the work of journalists, activists and lobbyists every day. Watch Maine Public’s Public Affairs Host and Producer of “Maine Calling” Jennifer Rooks, CEO and Co-founder of the Freedom March NYC Chelsea Miller, and Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby Destie Hohman Sprague reflect on this moment.

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