Five freedoms. One amendment. One university, the University of Wyoming, celebrates the protections for religion, press, speech, assembly and petition.

The First Amendment Awareness Days are a celebration of the U.S. First Amendment freedoms. A diverse assortment of speakers and activities are planned April 26-30. All virtual activities are open to the public.

“Recent events and continued societal pressures have highlighted the need for education and support of the First Amendment,” said Cary Berry-Smith, UW Student Media Advisor. “We have had activities in the past focusing on the First Amendment, and we believe that this is so critical that we need to continue that education.”

Student Media First Amendment Awareness Days will kick off Monday, April 26 at 4 p.m. with a focus on the freedom of religion. Dr. Tammy Heise, assistant professor of American religion at UW, will present a talk on “Religious Freedom: A Contested Ideal.” Heise’s research focuses on religion’s role in authorizing and exorcising authority in U.S. society, especially in respect to race and gender.

Former and current members of the Wyoming media will discuss press freedom and external pressures in Tuesday’s session at 4 p.m., “Pressing the Press.” Former Branding Iron editors Taylor Hannon and Joel Funk will join Casper Star Tribune editor Joshua Wolfson and Wyoming Tribune editor Brian Martin.

“We take for granted our first amendment rights, and every time you could have a conversation about why they're important, that’s a great thing,” Wolfson said. “I think anything that celebrates such an important part of our constitution is great.”

Nationally recognized expert in the First Amendment, Ken Paulson, will test audience members in an engaging round of, “Rights, Revolution and Rock and Roll.” Paulson, former editor-and-chief of USA Today, is the director of the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University. His presentation will be April 29 at 1:20 p.m.

The week will wrap up April 30 at 4 p.m. with a presentation on the freedom of assembly. Former Branding Iron editor, Phil White, and Black 14 member, Mel Hamilton, will discuss how the wearing of black armbands in peaceful protest of racism resulted in 14 athletes being removed from the 1969 UW football team.

All events are virtual and open to the public. For Zoom links, visit www.uwbrandingiron.com/first-amendment-awareness-days/ or join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/uwbrandingiron

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