Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Bienvenidos a Colombia!

By Eran Wade
Today I begin as a contributor to Fanning the Flames. What allows me to contribute to a blog related to the Freedom Museum? This January and February I will be accompanying social justice workers who work in a human rights center in Colombia, South America. The McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum is a museum dedicated to the First Amendment Freedoms. However, it is also a museum dedicated to human rights and First Amendment freedoms around the world. So, when at least 10 people, were killed in a monk-led protest in September in Myanmar, the Freedom Museum takes notice. It also happens that I am a Freedom Ambassador (volunteer) at the museum and I help with adult educational programs, student field trip orientations, and other special events. Danielle Estler—volunteer and intern coordinator at the museum—jokes that this blog will be my penance for abandoning the museum for six weeks. Actually, my experience in Colombia fits right in and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my experience related to international human rights.

What is going on in Colombia? The Latin America Working Group is a coalition dedicated to a U.S. foreign policy in Latin America that promotes human rights, justice, peace and sustainable development. The group says, “Over 300,000 people are forced to flee their homes from political violence each year.” The Colombian Presbyterian Church runs a human rights center to empower those folks to regain their livelihood. The social justice workers at the center give legal representation, help the people claim government assistance, and encourage them amidst the danger and conflict. The armed situation is volatile and complex. The rights that you and I take for granted here in the United States are not always a given in war-torn Colombia. The Latin America Working Group continues on their website, “U.S. and Colombian nongovernmental groups, alarmed by growing allegations of killings of civilians by members of the Colombian army, call for stricter enforcement of the human rights conditions in the law.”

My goal in Colombia is to observe the work, encourage the people, and communicate to friends in the United States about what’s going on. While there, I will be blogging via “Fanning the Flames.” I look forward to this opportunity and hope old and new friends alike with be able to keep informed through my stories and experiences.


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at

Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project

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