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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Civil liberties: the next generation

Posted by Thomas Nephew on February 21st, 2011

Binta Coulibaly, Maddie Nephew, Susana Perez
Binta Coulibaly, Maddie Nephew, Susana Perez

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.

Last 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.



[crossposted from the blog of the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition]

4 Responses to “Civil liberties: the next generation”

  1. Nell Says:

    Further awesomeness from an already remarkable young woman and her friends!

    I’d seen a ton of references and links to the ACLU ‘smarter than a 7th grader’ over the last couple of days, but had put them aside while I tried to follow events far away. Always a pleasure to see a new post on newsrackblog, and even more so to learn through this one that the much-noticed piece was by Maddie. Congratulations to her, and to her parents who’ve taught the most admirable American values in the most effective way — by living them.

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Thanks, Nell! I’m probably responsible for at least a half a ton of those references and links, I’ve been bragging nonstop. 🙂 She’s a smart kid and a good one.

    Good to hear from you! I see your tweets a lot now, which is nice but not quite the same as a comment. Sorry for the reduced output here. The Metro stuff has been keeping me surprisingly busy; among other things, I’ve become the unofficial video documentarian of the dispute. Meanwhile, Gary wants me to post stuff to Obsidian Wings, which I’ve done once now (through him); I may recycle/rewrite the “flawed policy” item below next.

  3. Nell Says:

    I noticed considerably after the fact that you’d guest posted at ObWi, but failed to apply the patented John Emerson comment-generating technique of telling a regular to go f*** himself.

    Do consider posting there on Metro bag search campaign; it’s of national importance and there may well be some DC area readers who might come on out to flyer. [You’re in touch with Keith Ivey already, yes?]

  4. Thomas Nephew Says:

    I heard about that! Didn’t go look — life’s too short to spend on *other* people’s quarrels. I like John — he’s a good Facebook friend — but I know he sometimes doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and sees too many of them. Yes, I hope to post something about WMATA via Gary tonight.

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