Civil liberties and the next generation

Binta Coulibaly, Maddie Nephew, Susana Perez

Binta Coulibaly, Maddie Nephew, Susana Perez

This blog usually focuses on the cause of civil liberties and civil rights in Montgomery County — not on our personal lives. But sometimes they’re one and the same.

My daughter Maddie Nephew and her friends Binta Coulibaly and Susana Perez have produced what I’m proud to say is an exceptional video documentary titled “The Fight for Student Rights: Student Free Speech in Schools.” The video, based on a paper Maddie wrote earlier in the school year, is their entry in this year’s “National History Day” competition; their school — Eastern Middle School, in Silver Spring, Maryland — has built their superb humanities and communication magnet program around participating in this event.

For her paper, Maddie interviewed both Mary Beth Tinker — one of the defendants in the seminal free student speech case Tinker v. Des Moines — and State Senator Jamie Raskin, who among many other accomplishments literally wrote the book on student rights; the team went back for some very interesting video interviews with both of these civil liberties champions.

Earlier this week, the girls (and I) were thrilled to learn that their work would be featured on the web site of the ACLU of the National Capital Area; the article is titled “Are You Smarter than a Seventh Grader?” I saw how hard they worked on this — and while I suppose I may be biased, I’m honestly very impressed with the result. Thanks very much to Johnny Barnes of the ACLU-NCA for rewarding their work with some very well deserved recognition.  As he put it,

The future of civil liberties is in good hands.

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