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Annenberg Classroom Film ‘Freedom of Assembly’ Wins Awards

Annenberg Classroom’s documentary about the First Amendment right to freedom of assembly has been honored with a 2021 Platinum Hermes Creative Award in Electronic Media. Judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, the Hermes Awards annually recognize excellence in ingenuity, effectiveness, and quality in work done by marketing and communications professionals across traditional and nontraditional media.

“Freedom of Assembly: National Socialist Party v. Skokie” also won:

  • A 2021 Silver Telly Award. The Telly Awards were founded in 1979 to honor excellence in local, regional and cable television commercials, with non-broadcast video and television programming subsequently added.
  • A 2021 Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications, in the category Educational, Informational, or Training Video Production.

Released in advance of Constitution Day in 2020, the documentary features interviews with constitutional scholars and legal experts to explain how the First Amendment’s freedom of assembly protects community-wide speech from government censorship, even when it is unpopular.

The film provides context for the National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie (1977) case, in which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provided legal counsel to neo-Nazi Frank Collin, who had been barred from demonstrating in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago that had many Jewish residents, including Holocaust survivors. Susan Herman, a former president of the ACLU, defended the organization’s support of Collin’s right to assemble. “[T]here’s always a risk that someone’s going to hear a hateful idea and decide that they agree with it, but the basic idea of democracy is that that’s a risk we have to take,” Herman said.

The 29-minute film, produced by The Documentary Group, is a project of the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics at the Annenberg Public Policy Center in partnership with The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands. The film is closed-captioned and comes with a lesson plan. It is available free here for streaming or download.

Annenberg Classroom provides resources for middle and high school students and features a library of more than 60 videos, including conversations with Supreme Court justices; interactive games; a guide to the Constitution; and other resources. Among its award-winning films in The Constitution Project are:

*This post was updated 7/9/21 with the Clarion Award.

Screen capture from Annenberg Classroom's 'Freedom of Assembly'