The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has announced that New York University professor Deborah N. Archer will become the first Black president in the history of the 101-year-old organization.
In a virtual meeting held over the weekend, ACLU officials elected Archer to succeed Susan Herman, a Brooklyn Law School professor, who had previously served as president since 2008, The Guardian reports.
“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,” Executive Director Anthony Romero said.
I am so proud to have the opportunity to help lead this tremendous organization! https://t.co/OdU9aQOEpg
— Deborah Archer (@DeborahNArcher) February 1, 2021
In functioning as the ACLU’s eighth president since 1920, Archer will serve as chair of its board of directors, supervise organizational business, and set strategy in terms of civil liberties policies. According to PBS NewsHour, Archer and the ACLU are expected to prioritize civil rights racial injustice, and communities of color.
Archer, who has focused much of her work through the lens of racial justice, began her career as the Marvin M. Karpatkin Legal Fellow at the ACLU, Axios reports. Later, she went on to become a member of the ACLU board, where she has served since 2009.
Since Donald Trump‘s time in office, the ACLU filed more than 400 lawsuits and other legal motions against his administration that argued against his policies in regards to voting rights, LGBTQ rights, racial justice and other issues, according to The Guardian.
“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 said.
The ACLU joined the Black Lives Matter Washington, D.C., chapter in suing the federal government this summer, citing a violation of protesters’ rights that were allegedly assaulted by the police, Blavity previously reported.
Officers reportedly used flash-bangs, tear gas, smoke canisters, and rubber bullets to forcibly remove protesters out of Lafayette Square, near the White House, in June.
“This case is about the president and attorney general of the United States ordering the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators who were speaking out against discriminatory police brutality targeted at Black people,” the lawsuit read.
In campaigning against the Trump administration’s shortcomings, the ACLU started promoting the “See You In Court” ad campaign that powered a huge growth in donations and memberships. Romero said the organization garnered about $175 million in donations to help fund a major project just three months following Trump’s election.
“President Trump may be gone but his toxic legacy on civil rights and civil liberties is still very much with us. It will take years to clean up,” Romero said. “At the top of our agenda is the effort to redouble this nation’s longstanding but frayed commitment to civil rights and racial justice. The country needs a president who will be transformational when it comes to these issues.”
The executive director confirmed that among its racial justice work, the ACLU will prioritize voting rights, revoking the Trump administration’s immigration policies, and joining in efforts to give mothers nationally more options in their childbirth decisions and healthcare.