CWU News

First Amendment Festival Features Pulitzer Winner Douglas Blackmon

The weeklong First Amendment Festival at CWU will feature a keynote speech from Douglas Blackmon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. He is also co-executive producer of the acclaimed PBS documentary of the same name.

Blackmon's speech, set for 7 p.m. May 11 in the Student Union and Recreation Center Ballroom, is free and open to the public.

Blackmon has worked as chief of the Wall Street Journal’s Atlanta bureau, and was a senior national correspondent for the paper until 2012. He’s also the executive producer and host of American Forum, a public affairs program produced at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and aired weekly on more than 250 PBS affiliates across the country. He is the co-founder and former board member of two socially and ethnically diverse charter schools that serve more than 600 students from kindergarten through eighth grade throughout Atlanta’s inner city.

“This is my first time speaking at the First Amendment Festival,” Blackmon said. “I am honored to be the keynote speaker at an event that celebrates the rights that many of us take for granted.”

His speech is part of this year's campus dialog called Mass Incarceration and Racial Justice: Black and Brown Live Do Matter. It is also one of several events in the Department of Communication’s fourth annual First Amendment Festival May 9-12, designed to help students learn about and exercise their First Amendment freedoms.

“It’s a real eye opener,” said festival chair Cynthia Mitchell, a professor of journalism whose service and research specialties are in First Amendment education. “When you see people get roughed up and hauled away just for expressing their beliefs, you realize that we’re so lucky to live in a country where we have these basic rights.” 

Additional First Amendment Festival events:

  • Marketplace of Ideas, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. May 9-12 downstairs in the SURC, where attendees can find information about various advocacy clubs and organizations and make their own protest sign.
  • Speak Out Central, noon-1 p.m. May 9-10 in the SURC Pit, where students can offer their opinions on current hot topics, such as the election and marijuana.  
  • Free Speech Walls, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 9-12 on the east and west SURC patios, where participants write their thoughts on a partition board.
  • Food For Thought, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. May 12 on the east SURC patio, where participants give up their First Amendment rights in exchange for free pizza.

Parking at CWU is free after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, except where marked and at residence halls.

Media contact: Barb Arnott, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-2841,

May 5, 2016