American Civil Liberties Union appoints first Black president

The organisation said that the new president is particularly equipped to take on civil rights and systemic equality issues

American Civil Liberties Union appoints first Black president

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has appointed its first Black president in civil rights practitioner and NYU clinical law professor Deborah Archer.

“After beginning my career as an ACLU fellow, it is an honour to come full circle and now lead the organisation as board president,” Archer said. “The ACLU has proven itself as an invaluable voice in the fight for civil rights in the last four years of the Trump era, and we are better positioned than ever to face the work ahead.”

Archer is a lawyer, scholar and educator with significant experience in racial justice and constitutional matters. In addition to being a tenured professor at the New York University School of Law, she is the director of the university’s Civil Rights Clinic and serves as co-faculty director of the Centre on Race, Inequality and the Law. She was also the first dean of diversity and inclusion at New York Law School.

She has chaired the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board and served on the boards of the Legal Aid Society and the National Centre for Law and Economic Justice, among others. In addition, she was previously an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defence and Educational Fund.

“As the country enters the post-Trump era, it is essential that those in leadership intimately understand the history that brought us to this inflection point and the work ahead,” ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said. “There is no one better equipped, who best personifies or is more capable to helm the future battles for civil rights, civil liberties, and systemic equality than Deborah Archer.”

Since kicking off her legal career as the Marvin M. Karpatkin Legal Fellow at the ACLU, Archer has served the organisation in numerous roles, including as a board member, executive committee member and GC. On Saturday, the ACLU national board elected her to the position of president in a virtual gathering.

Archer will be the first Black woman to lead the board in the 101 years since the organisation’s inception. She succeeds Susan Herman, who completes a 12-year term as president.

Herman’s storied tenure was marked by milestone events such as the ACLU’s challenges against the Trump administration, COVID-19 and the responses to racism in the US in the last year.

“This organisation has been part of every important battle for civil liberties during our first century, and we are committed to continuing that legacy as we enter our second. I could not be more excited to get to work,” Archer said.

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