Pulitzer Prize winning native Hank Klibanoff returns for first amendment awareness month.
Pulitzer Prize winning native Hank Klibanoff returns for first amendment awareness month
by James Ryan
April 23, 2012 UNA was host to 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner Hank Klibanoff in honor of first amendment awareness month. Along with fellow journalist Gene Roberts, Klibanoff won the award for the 2006 book “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation” that recounted the role of newspapers and television in the African-American civil rights movement¹. Kilbanoff spoke on the first amendment as a muscle, saying that the 45 words that comprise its body need to be exercised to be strong. He went on to make emphasis to the point that the first amendment is a vital supporting structure of society, stating “there is an absolute connection between a free press and a free society,” his message reinforced by notable examples from history and his own experience, with both of positive and negative examples of press behavior.
Beyond the insight and commentary about freedom of speech and press, Kilbanoff also called the audience to join his personal cause of the reopening of public access to the Wilson Dam locks, closed since 2001 for fear of terrorist attack. Kilbanoff stated that going to the dam and watching the boats cross was a unique local activity and that it was time to move past the fear and remove the fencing that the TVA put in place as a barrier to the public, quoting Ronald Regan in facsimile, “Mr Gorbachov, tear down this fence!” In connection with the topic of the day, Kilbanoff said the right of peaceful assembly was in question.
¹ Jonathan Yardley (November 6, 2006). "Two journalists recall the reporters who covered some of the nation's most hard-fought battles.". The Washington Post. Retrieved on April 23, 2012.