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Entangled Histories: Free Speech & Civil Rights from the 1960’s to Today

July 28, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

How has the First Amendment been invoked to help or to hinder the progress of civil rights? This discussion will examine how the mid-1960s were a turning point not only for the Civil Rights movement, but also the history of free speech in the U.S. From the Civil Rights Act to landmark Supreme Court decisions, the boundaries of the First Amendment were tested in ways that affected civil rights in the decades following.

In this exciting conversation moderated by DeJuana Thompson at the Birmingham Museum of Art, panelists Carlos A. Ball, Michael Harriot, and Dr. Tara Y. White will dig into the rich legacy of civil rights and advocacy that has propelled social change in Birmingham and beyond. Ashley M. Jones, Poet Laureate for the state of Alabama, will open the panel with a reading of her own work.


DeJuana Thompson, thought leader on race, politics, and social engagement strategy; president and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; founding partner with Think Rubix.


Carlos Ball, nationally recognized expert on LGBTQ rights law and constitutional law; professor of law at Rutgers University; and author or editor of nine books.

Michael Harriot, columnist at theGrio.com and The Guardian where he covers the intersection of race, politics, and culture; political commentator on MSNBC and CNN; and recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists Award for digital commentary as well as TV news writing.

Dr. Tara Y. White is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she specializes in African American history and public history.

Ashley M. Jones, Poet Laureate for the state of Alabama, founder of the Magic City Poetry Festival, board member of the Alabama Writers Cooperative and the Alabama Writers Forum, co-director of PEN Birmingham, and a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department of the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

Flashpoints: Free Speech in American History, Culture & Society is a series discussing the fascinating and complex history of free speech in American democracy to public audiences in cities across the country. Flashpoints has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

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