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Florida Tech Hosts Award-Winning ‘Frontline’ Producer, Reporter Headlines Free Speech Week Feb. 20-23

James Edwards, an award-winning reporter, producer and host whose PBS Frontline podcast explored the impacts—and failures—of a law designed to solve cold civil rights crimes, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Florida Tech.

Edwards will be the keynote speaker for Florida Tech’s 13th annual Free Speech Week hosted by the university’s student-run newspaper, The Crimson. His presentation in the Hartley Room in the Denius Student Union building is free and open to the public.

Hosted every February, Free Speech Week is a campus wide reminder that The Crimson and the rest of the student-run organizations in the Panther Media Group truly are a “free press.” Student leaders make all editorial decisions.

The celebration includes events Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Tuesday, Feb. 20 brings a free speech wall to Panther Plaza where participants may write whatever they’d like on the temporary structure. At 7 p.m., a 90-minute, open mic poetry slam will happen at the Rathskeller on the ground floor of Evans Hall.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, a panel of journalists from Florida Today and Orlando CBS affiliate WKMG will talk about the challenges and successes in local media. The panel will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Link Room in Evans Library. It is free and open to the public.

The Crimson will host “Live Free or Eat Free: You can’t do both.” starting at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 23, on Crawford Green. The First Amendment comes to life as students get a free meal from a local food truck in exchange for their First Amendment rights.

At his presentation Wednesday, Edwards will touch on information from Un(re)solved, a multiplatform investigation that draws upon more than two years of reporting, thousands of documents and dozens of first-hand interviews to explore what happened after congress passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. Edwards retells the stories of many of these unsolved crimes and documents the successes and shortcomings of the search for justice.

“Journalism can do more than simply inform. It can provide a window into someone else’s experience,” said Ted Petersen, an associate professor of journalism at Florida Tech and adviser to The Crimson. “It’s hard to listen to Edwards’ work in ‘Un(re)solved’ and not experience deep empathy for the people whose stories he tells.”

Edwards has held a variety of producing, reporting and digital positions at public media outlets such as WBEZ Chicago, Public Radio International, WGBH News and the newsmagazine Need To Know On PBS. He has also worked as a researcher on several TV, film, and documentary projects, including the feature film “Candyman” and the HBO series “Lovecraft Country.”

He is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in film and video, and Northwestern University, where he earned a master’s degree in journalism.

For more information, contact Petersen at 321-674-7201 or tpetersen@fit.edu.

Terri Wright held the position of General Manager at WFIT from 1998-2023.