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"Fight the Power": Oct. 19

Did you know that a recent survey by the First Amendment Center found that almost a THIRD of respondents said they would prohibit musicians from singing songs with lyrics that others might find offensive? That almost half of the 100 best novels of the 20th century have been challenged or banned?

Spurred by these alarming statistics, a group of journalists and free-speech advocates described as a “League of Nations of First Amendment professionals” started the Liberty Tree Initiative, a project meant to increase awareness and appreciation among college students of the five freedoms of the First Amendment.

Lehigh was one of ten schools chosen nationally this year to receive a Liberty Tree Initiative grant to fund First Amendment programming, titled Lehigh Celebrates the First! Under the direction of associate professor Kathy Olson, the Department of Journalism and Communication is sponsoring a series of events to educate the Lehigh community about important First Amendment rights and to reaffirm our commitment to free expression.

This Web site is a big part of that effort. Through “Banned Books (and Movies! and Music!) We Love,” students, faculty, and staff from around the campus have stood up for objects of censorship they value – whether as an important work of literature or simply as enjoyable reading (or watching or listening). The list – which includes some of the best-loved and classic books of all time – illustrates the scope of the problem while it demonstrates Lehigh’s commitment to fighting censorship.

Events are sponsored by the Department of Journalism and Communication, with help from:

  • The American Studies program, ArtsLehigh, the Creative Writing program, the Department of English, the Humanities Center, the International Multimedia Resource Center, the Library, the Department of Music and the Zoellner Arts Center.
  • The Liberty Tree Initiative, a partnership that includes the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Knight Foundation, the McCormick Foundation and the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

For more information, contact Kathy Olson in the Department of Journalism and Communication.

Schedule of Events

  • For Banned Books Week, Sept. 27-Oct. 3: a library exhibit on book censorship in the Fairchild-Martindale Library, main lobby. Banned books will be available for check-out. The library will also be tweeting about the First Amendment on its home page throughout the week.
  • Monday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. in the Humanities Center: a discussion of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, led by Jim Speese of the English Dept. E-mail Kathy Olson if you would like to participate and to get a copy of the book, or stop by Coppee Hall, second floor.
  • Monday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m. (outside Coppee Hall): Ceremony to plant a Liberty Tree and reaffirm Lehigh's dedication to free expression now and in the future.
  • Monday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. (Whitaker Auditorium): "Fight the Power: The Music That Changed America," a multimedia program on music censorship, featuring Ken Paulson of The First Amendment Center and the Newseum leading a band of Grammy Award-winning musicians from Nashville.