Feb 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

ACLU elects its first Black woman as president

Head shot of Deborah Archer

Deborah Archer. Photo: courtesy of ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union said Monday its national board has elected civil rights attorney Deborah Archer as its new president, making her the first Black woman to lead the 101-year-old organization.

Why it matters: Archer's milestone comes as the ACLU prepares to push policies aimed at promoting racial equality — from fighting police violence to ensuring voting rights.

Details: Archer replaces Susan Herman, who stepped down after serving 12 years leading the organization’s board through the Trump administration and the emergence of privacy concerns in the digital age.

  • Archer is a tenured professor of clinical law and director of the Civil Rights Clinic at New York University School of Law, and co-faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU Law.
  • Archer began her career as the Marvin M. Karpatkin Legal Fellow at the ACLU. She has been a member of the ACLU board since 2009.

What they're saying: “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. 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,” said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero.

Between the lines: The ACLU has been active in recent years in fighting police excessive force in communities of color. Archer is expected to continue that fight.

  • The new ACLU version of the Mobile Justice app available in all 50 states records and submits police incidents directly to local chapters. The app also lets users send videos via text messaging to family and private attorneys.

The bottom line: Archer's election comes as Black women continue to break barriers across industries, politics and nonprofit organizations.

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