"No other year has revealed that to us in the way that this year (referring to 2020) has revealed to us the deep rooted and longstanding inequality caused by systemic racism, and really the failure to recognize the fundamental humanity of Black people and people of color was laid bare for us. We saw that Black people have had to endure violence and death at the hands of the state at the same time that these communities were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 bearing the health, education, economic, financial and social consequences (of the pandemic)."
Seattle - 12 June 2020
6. STILL image of a protester holding a sign that reads "Stop Killing Us" during a "Silent March" against racial inequality and police brutality
ARCHIVE: Washington – 28 August 2020
7. STILL image of people at the March on Washington on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech
8. Young girl holding 'Black Lives Matter' flag at March on Washington rally
ARCHIVE: New York – 14 October 2020
9. STILL image of a protester crying as she prays with a crowd during a rally for the late George Floyd outside Barclays Center
"I think over the past four years, there were lots of dark moments for someone who cares about social justice, who cares about civil rights, who cares about racial justice. There were many dark moments and times of despair. And a bright light always was turning to the work that the ACLU was doing to push back and to defend folks, so I've always known and I've known since I worked with the ACLU in the 1990s that I wanted to serve the organization."
"I'm hoping that we finally come together to be able to address critical issues that we see at the intersection of race, class and place. Segregation is an incredible problem for our country – we're deeply and profoundly segregated – and we all know that you can't separate the places that people have access to from the opportunities that people have access to."
ARCHIVE: Washington - 23 June 2020
13. STILL image of a sleepy Bonita wearing protective goggles as she settles into her mother's shoulder near the White House amid continuing anti-racism demonstrations following the death of George Floyd
ARCHIVE: New York – 19 June 2020
14. STILL image of a couple walking near people marching near Seneca Village, historically a 19th-century settlement of mostly African American landowners within present day Central Park, during a Juneteenth celebration
"I grew up in one of the richest states in the country with parents who often struggled financially to provide; parents who faced discrimination because of the color of their skin, because of their immigrant status, because of their accents. And so, it certainly has shaped who I am as a person and as a lawyer. I became a civil rights lawyer because I wanted to fight for the right and ability of families like mine to live lives with dignity and respect. I wanted to fight for people like me to be able to make choices and live life without the hurdles and burdens of discrimination. And that's what I did when I started off at the ACLU and what I'm trying to do now."
Deborah Archer, a professor at New York University School of Law with expertise in civil rights and racial justice, has become the first Black person in the 101-year history of the American Civil Liberties Union to be elected its president.
The ACLU announced last week that Archer was elected during a virtual meeting of the organization's 69-member board of directors. She succeeds Susan Herman, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who had served as president since 2008.
As the ACLU's eighth president since 1920, Archer will act as chair of its board of the directors, overseeing organizational matters and the setting of civil liberties policies. The fight against racial injustice is expected to be a top priority.
The ACLU's day-to-day operations are managed by its executive director — a post currently held by Anthony Romero.
During former President Donald Trump's four years in office, the ACLU filed an unprecedented 413 lawsuits and other legal actions against his administration, challenging policies related to immigrant rights, voting rights, LGBT rights, racial justice and other issues.
The campaign against Trump's administration — promoted in a catchy "See You In Court" ad campaign — fueled huge increases in donations and membership. According to Romero, the ACLU national office and its state affiliates received about $175 million in donations in the three months after Trump's election, helping to finance a major expansion of staff.
"I think over the past four years, there were lots of dark moments for someone who cares about social justice, who cares about civil rights, who cares about racial justice," Archer said on Monday.
"There were many dark moments and times of despair. And a bright light always was turning to the work that the ACLU was doing to push back and to defend folks, so I've always known – and I've known since I worked with the ACLU in the 1990s that I wanted to serve the organization."
Other ACLU priorities, Archer said, include voting rights, a rollback of the Trump administration's get-tough immigration policies, civil rights of those who identify as LGBTQ, as well as joining in efforts to thwart anti-abortion legislation surfacing in many Republican-governed states.
Early in her career, after graduating from Yale Law School, Archer was a legal fellow at the ACLU in 1997-98. She has been a member of the ACLU's board since 2009, and a general counsel and member of the board's executive committee since 2017.
At NYU Law School, Archer is a professor of clinical law and director of its Civil Rights Clinic. She has served as chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates alleged police misconduct, and was also assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
A child of a immigrants from Jamaica, Archer is a first-generation American who grew up in Connecticut. She is also the first in her family to go to college. She says her parents inspired her to want to become a civil rights lawyer and her journey from then till now constantly reminds her of the importance of paying it forward.
"I grew up in one of the richest states in the country with parents who often struggled financially to provide; parents who faced discrimination because of the color of their skin, because of their immigrant status, because of their accents," she said. "I became a civil rights lawyer because I wanted to fight for the right and ability of families like mine to live lives with dignity and respect. I wanted to fight for people like me to be able to make choices and live life without the hurdles and burdens of discrimination. And that's what I did when I started off at the ACLU and what I'm trying to do now."
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