“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.”
Written by James Madison the First Amendment (1A) gives Americans five freedoms — of the press, of speech, of religion, to petition, and to assemble.
Thus the government cannot tell people how to worship, limit what they can say and talk about, or interfere with the press. The words in the First Amendment also say that the government cannot stop people from getting together or assembling peacefully and cannot stop them from asking the government to make changes or just telling the government that they disagree with something.
These days I hear many people talking about the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, but as they talk I often wonder how much they really understand about the document? Can they describe the five freedoms and how those freedoms affect people’s lives in the United States? Children and adults probably need to learn lots more.
An excellent NewseumEd activity, designed for students in grades three through eight, introduces the First Amendment using materials, discussion, and scenario examinations that explore how the First Amendment works in real-life situations. Similar resources are available at the website for high school and college learners.