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'Conversations with John Seigenthaler' lecture series announced
News release

First Amendment Center

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A series of six public conversations about First Amendment freedoms and contemporary issues conducted by First Amendment Center Founder John Seigenthaler begins Friday, Oct. 13.

“Conversations with John Seigenthaler,” which all begin at 9:30 a.m. CT, will take place at the Seigenthaler Center, 1207 18th Ave. South, Nashville, as part of the Retirement Learning at Vanderbilt program classes. Additional public seating is available, but limited. To reserve a seat and for parking information, please contact Randol Stephens, 615-727-1333.

The conversations, by topic and date:

  • Patriotism: Salute the Flag or Burn It? (Oct. 13)
  • Freedom of the Press: “A Set of Infamous Scribblers!” (Oct. 20)
  • A Dangerous Dichotomy: Freedom and Fear! (Oct. 27)
  • One Nation Under God: Indivisible or Divisible? (Nov. 3)
  • The Cultural Chasm: Defining Obscenity (Nov. 10)
  • The First Amendment: For Better or For Worse? (Nov. 17)

    “This series of conversations with John Seigenthaler offers the opportunity to hear one of the nation’s great defenders of our basic freedoms offer his perspective on some of the most contentious and divisive issues of our time,” said Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center.

    Seigenthaler founded the center in 1991 with the mission of creating national discussion, dialogue and debate about First Amendment rights and values. A former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Seigenthaler served for 43 years as an award-winning journalist for The Tennessean, Nashville's morning newspaper. At his retirement he was editor, publisher and CEO. He retains the title chairman emeritus. In 1982, Seigenthaler became founding editorial director of USA TODAY and served in that position for a decade, retiring from both the Nashville and national newspapers in 1991.

    Seigenthaler left journalism briefly in the early 1960s to serve in the U.S. Justice Department as administrative assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. His work in the field of civil rights led to his service as chief negotiator with the governor of Alabama during the Freedom Rides. During that crisis, while attempting to aid Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Ala., he was attacked by a mob of Klansmen.
    Seigenthaler hosts a weekly book-review program, "A Word On Words." He is a senior advisory trustee of the Freedom Forum. He chairs the annual "Profile in Courage Award" selection committee of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and co-chairs with Arthur Schlesinger Jr. the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for the RFK Memorial. Seigenthaler served on the 18-member National Commission on Federal Election Reform organized in 2001 by former Presidents Carter and Ford. He is a member of the Constitution Project on Liberty and Security, created after the Sept. 11 tragedies in New York and Washington.

    In 2002, the trustees of Vanderbilt University created the John Seigenthaler Center, naming the building at 18th Avenue South and Edgehill Avenue that houses the offices of the Freedom Forum, the First Amendment Center and the Diversity Institute.

    The First Amendment Center works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, and the rights to assemble and to petition the government. With offices at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C., the center is an operating program of the Freedom Forum and is associated with the Newseum. Its affiliation with Vanderbilt University is through the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies.

    The Retirement Learning at Vanderbilt program supports lifelong learning for mature adults through educational programs, stimulating tours and trips, and a variety of social events. The program reflects the high academic standards espoused by the University on all levels. Students benefit from lectures and discussions in the informal and relaxed environment of non-credit courses. For more information about the program, visit

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    Press contact
    Gene Policinski, 615/727-1303

  • Related

    Patriotism, dissent and the American flag

    By Melanie Bengtson In first of six lectures on First Amendment values, First Amendment Center founder analyzes history of flag, practice of burning it in protest. PODCAST VIDEO 10.13.06

    'Sex and politics' as news is hardly new

    By Brian J. Buchanan First Amendment Center founder surveys history of news coverage of sexual scandals in politics. PODCAST VIDEO 10.20.06

    To some, ‘obscene’ art not to be seen, heard

    By Brian J. Buchanan First Amendment Center founder pores over history of attempts to regulate artistic expression. PODCAST VIDEO 11.10.06

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