The First Amendment—
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
What does the First Amendment look like in practice?
In Pittsburgh, it looks like men and women gathered in prayer at First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, Rodef Shalom or the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
It looks like journalists asking questions and holding those in power accountable, or demonstrators outside of a federal courthouse on Grant Street protesting immigration policy.
It looks like a petition delivered to city hall or people simply dancing in the street at a Pride festival. It looks like what many of us do every day, when we post our thoughts and opinions on social media without fear of government censorship or retaliation.
In this divisive time in American politics, many of the tenets established by the country’s Founding Fathers are being challenged — from gun rights to equal rights.
It is the First Amendment that allows such conversations to take place. Yet this principle, established in 1789, is also under siege, with rising intolerance of other cultures and the press labeled as the enemy.
Pittsburgh’s track record of honoring the First Amendment isn’t without its failures, but this video captures some civic bright spots.
The Pittsburgh Foundation is hosting an event The First Amendment in the Twenty-First Century on June 21 and June 22. To learn more, visit pittsburghfoundation.org/1A-pittsburgh-conference.
(The Pittsburgh Foundation provides funding to PublicSource.)