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The story of the First Amendment wall in McEwen

As part of the McEwen Communications Building renovation process, the School of Communications installed a 21-foot wall displaying the First Amendment.  

During his Oct. 12 visit to campus, First Amendment Center president Ken Paulson toured the renovated McEwen Communications Building, which includes a 21-foot wall prominently displaying the First Amendment. Photo courtesy of Communications Dean Paul Parsons

The visibility of the First Amendment took a huge leap forward in the renovation of McEwen Communications Building.

Since 2000 when the School of Communications was established, McEwen’s inner lobby prominently featured a backlit First Amendment poster designed by the First Amendment Center.

When McEwen underwent a major renovation in summer 2016, the First Amendment sign came down and a new First Amendment wall arose in the first-floor hallway, facing what will be renovated later in the fall into a new multiplatform student newsroom.

Elon’s First Amendment wall uses many of the same graphics as the First Amendment Center poster, with permission. Paul Parsons, dean of the School of Communications, contacted First Amendment Center president Ken Paulson over the summer with the request.

“We loved the look of the First Amendment poster and its theme of five freedoms in 45 words,” Parsons said. “We initially designed the wall to have a different font and different style, but it just didn’t compare with the original. We’re thankful we could preserve the dramatic look of the First Amendment that our students, faculty and staff had come to love.”

The 21-foot-long wall features “The First Amendment” and “freedom of speech ... press” in block letters of oak.

On Oct. 12, Paulson visited Elon as the writer and narrator of “Freedom Sings,” a live show produced by the First Amendment Center that highlights songs once censored or that influenced societal change. Parsons showed the new First Amendment wall to Paulson, who also serves as dean of the College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University.

Paulson said the First Amendment Center will look for a way to highlight Elon’s impressive display.

Tommy Kopetskie,
10/14/2016 8:20 AM