For Immediate Release
ACLU Launches 90th Anniversary Exhibit Celebrating Nine Decades Of Fighting For Freedom
NEW YORK - In
celebration of the American Civil Liberties Union's 90th anniversary,
the ACLU launched a traveling nationwide exhibit today highlighting the
organization's rich history of defending constitutional freedoms. The
exhibit will be displayed in a number of states, including Nebraska,
Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Iowa,
Maine, New Jersey, Tennessee, Oklahoma, California, Kentucky,
Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah as well as Washington, D.C.
"When the ACLU began as a small group of passionate idealists, the Bill
of Rights had little practical meaning for ordinary people. Over the
last 90 years, we've led the way to make the Constitution a living
document in the everyday lives of people all across America. The ACLU's
tireless work protecting fundamental freedoms has become so ingrained in
our society that it is hard to imagine an America without it," said
Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "We are very excited
to share the story of the ACLU's past 90 years with people from all
walks of life. We are confident that after viewing the exhibit, visitors
will have a deeper appreciation of the positive impact that the ACLU
has had on the personal lives of individuals and on society as a
The traveling exhibit provides an historical overview of the ACLU's many
monumental achievements since its founding in 1920. The organization
was established in response to the notorious Palmer Raids in which the
Department of Justice, led by U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer,
began rounding up and deporting so-called radicals because of their
political views without warrants and without regard to constitutional
protections against unlawful search and seizure.
The exhibit includes the stories of some of the courageous people the
ACLU has represented, including John Scopes, a teacher accused of
violating a Tennessee state law against the teaching of evolution in the
1920s; Ozzie Powell, one of the "Scottsboro Boys" sentenced to death in
Alabama in the 1930s for allegedly raping a white woman, a crime he did
not commit; Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple charged
in the 1960s with violating the state's "Racial Integrity Act"; and
Diane Schroer, an Army veteran whose job offer by the Library of
Congress was rescinded when it learned that Schroer was in the process
of changing gender.
The exhibit also highlights the ACLU's key role in the passage of major
pieces of legislation, including the Family and Medical Leave Act of
1993, guaranteeing eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid
leave for family responsibilities; the Americans with Disabilities Act
of 1990, prohibiting discrimination based on disability in employment,
public services, accommodations, transportation and technology; and the
periodic reauthorizations of several provisions of the Voting Rights Act
of 1965, protecting every American's constitutionally guaranteed right
Other civil liberties milestones showcased in the exhibit include the
ACLU's work overcoming legal obstacles to marriage for lesbian and gay
couples, defending women's reproductive freedom, upholding free speech
and privacy on the Internet and its post-9/11 work battling government
secrecy, abuses of power and human rights violations.
"While not everyone agrees with us on every issue, Americans have come
to count on the ACLU for its unyielding dedication to principle," said
Susan Herman, President of the ACLU. "The ACLU has always understood
that once the government has the power to violate one person's rights,
whoever that person is, it can then use that power against everyone.
Many of the stories featured in our exhibit vividly illustrate our
dedication to defending the civil liberties of everyone, no matter what their political affiliation or popularity."
The ACLU has evolved over the past nine
decades from a small group of idealists committed to protecting
Americans' civil liberties into an organization with more than 500,000
members, hundreds of attorneys - both staff and volunteer - and a
presence in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto
Rico. The exhibit showcases how the ACLU has used its unparalleled
infrastructure to litigate, educate and advocate at federal, state and
"The times may change, but the need to vigilantly defend our individual
liberties does not," said Emily Tynes, ACLU Director of Communications.
"We hope that people will leave the 90th Anniversary Exhibit with a
deeper understanding of the phenomenal scope of the ACLU's work from
1920 to today and the assurance that we will continue to protect their
freedoms for generations to come."
More information about the ACLU's 90th anniversary is available at: www.aclu90.org
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.