News & Stories
April 30, 2022

Communication Students Present an Evening of Banned Media  


Berry College communication students recently presented Freedom Sings, an evening of banned music and books.

The event featured music and books that have been banned, censored or have sounded a call for social change, and invites audiences to take a fresh look at the First Amendment. 

Haley Smith, director of Student Diversity Initiatives at Berry, performed “Ballad of Birmingham,” a song grieving the death of four girls who were attending Sunday school at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church when a bomb was detonated by white supremacists.

Other songs included:

  • “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver, performed by Jack Hereema
  • “The Times They Are a-Changin’” by Bob Dylan, performed by Professor Jim Watkins
  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan, performed by Hereema
  • “Which Side Are You On” by Florence Reese, performed by Watkins
  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent, performed by Grace Greene
  • “Imagine”by John Lennon, performed by Trejohn Skinner

Between songs, students read excerpts from banned classic and modern works such as “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give”, and Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-prize winning graphic novel “Maus”. The event was held at Berry's Frost Chapel. 

The event was funded by the Liberty Tree Initiative, which is an informal coalition of educators, journalists, librarians, artists and authors with a shared interest in building awareness of the First Amendment through education and information. It was founded in partnership with the American Society of Newspaper Editors, with help and support from the Knight Foundation, the McCormick Foundation and the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

The event echoes Berry’s 2009 presentation of Freedom Sings, a critically acclaimed musical experience and the planting of a Liberty Tree on the Evans lawn. The elm Liberty Tree hearkens back to the original Liberty tree in Boston Commons where the colonists protested the Stamp Act.


Written by communication majors Halle Teague and Grace Snell


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