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First Amendment Congress

  • University of Central Oklahoma, Nigh University Center 100 North University Drive Edmond, OK, 73034 United States (map)

Our annual event where hundreds of high school students and teachers from across Oklahoma come together for a one-day conference focused on the First Amendment and how it relates to their lives. More than 3,000 Oklahoma high school students have attended the First Amendment Congress since the annual program began in 1999. Presentation of the annual Zach Taylor First Amendment Essay Contest prize is also announced during the event. 

For the 2018 event, sessions will include:

  • First Amendment Rights of High School Students. What are the free expression rights of high school students under the First Amendment? Oklahoma State University Associate Professor Dr. Joey Senat, our MC for the day, has the answers. He’ll review examples of challenged speech and landmark court cases to enlighten students on our most fundamental freedoms.

  • March for Our Lives movement. The mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida in February 2018 served as a catalyst for student-led activism around the issue of gun violence. We’ll hear from Sallisaw High School students Jamie Pool and James Limbaugh, who took up the baton in Oklahoma to organize March for Our Lives OKC, one of 800 events held on March 24 in conjunction with the massive march in Washington, DC. University of Oklahoma student Mairiany Lopez—one of six Oklahoma college students to travel to DC for the national march—will also be on hand to discuss her experiences.

  • Children of the Civil Rights Movement. America’s young people have led the way before in protesting policies and speaking for change. Sixty years ago this year, 13 children sat down at an Oklahoma City lunch counter. It was the first of a series of sit-ins that would eventually end the racial segregation policies of businesses in the city. And it was two years before the more famous sit-ins occurred in Greenville, NC and other areas of the South. Our panel will include Ayanna Najuma and Stan Evans—two of those young people who participated in sit-ins from 1958 to 1965.

  • Walking Out for Our Future. When Oklahoma’s teachers walked out to protest low pay and underfunded schools in April of this year, they did not walk out alone. Students from across the state joined their teachers at the State Capitol to call for increased funding for Oklahoma’s public schools. High school students and representatives of the Oklahoma Education Association and Let’s Fix This, Oklahoma will discuss the walk out and talk about the steps that need to be taken to hold successful protest events.

Earlier Event: October 25
Oklahoma Journalism Networking Event
Later Event: April 25
First Amendment Day