Blog of Rights

Crop of image by Arlo Bates via Flickr

When Big Data Becomes a Civil Rights Problem

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:06am
My colleague Jay Stanley just wrote about an invasive new police tactic employed by the Chicago Police Department. Using software created by an engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the city developed a “’heat list’ — an index of the roughly 400 people in the city of Chicago supposedly most likely to be involved in violent crime.” The criteria for placement on the list are secret but reportedly go beyond indicators like criminal conviction, and raise real questions about racial bias in the selection process.
Comics As "Bibles" for Civil Rights Struggles

Comics As "Bibles" for Civil Rights Struggles

By Robert Hunter, Legal Assistant, ACLU, Racial Justice Program at 3:24pm

In the spring of 1958, civil rights leader and future Georgia Congressman John Lewis met Jim Lawson, an organizer with a nonviolent organizing group called the Fellowship Of Reconciliation (FOR). Lawson introduced Lewis to the FOR's popular comic book…

An Open Letter to the President on Race

An Open Letter to the President on Race

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:07am

Dear Mr. President,

Do you remember any of your campaign ads from your 2000 Congressional campaign? I'm thinking specifically of a radio ad touting your support for a bill that required police officers to log the ethnicity of every driver they…

Diversity and Dissent in Lee Daniels' The Butler

Diversity and Dissent in Lee Daniels' The Butler

By Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 12:16pm

2013 was considered by some to be a "banner year" for films featuring African-American actors and stories, due in part to the release of Lee Daniels' The Butler. Despite notable performances by Forest Whittaker and Oprah Winfrey, the film failed to…

The Promise and Hope of Detroit

The Promise and Hope of Detroit

By Dennis Parker, Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 11:19am

"Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world", as Percy Bysshe Shelley put it. I was reminded of this power that poetry has to illuminate social and political realities while reading Jamaal May's "There are Birds Here." May was born and raised…

What Have We Learned from the Spies of Mississippi?

What Have We Learned from the Spies of Mississippi?

By Hugh Handeyside, Staff Attorney, ACLU, National Security Project at 2:45pm

The documentary film "Spies of Mississippi," which aired on PBS on Monday, is a grim reminder of the depths that Mississippi authorities plumbed in their efforts to subvert the civil rights movement. The film chronicles the role of the Mississippi…

Remembering Larry King

Remembering Larry King

By Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU at 11:16am

We live in freedom by necessity. We must reshape our world. We must love one another, or die. --Vijay Prashad, The World We Want is the World We Need, Riverside Church

Today I remember Larry King who was killed six years ago. On…

Court-Sanctioned Extortion by Private Probation Companies: Modern Debtors' Prisons

Court-Sanctioned Extortion by Private Probation Companies: Modern Debtors' Prisons

By Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 10:46am

Yesterday, Human Rights Watch released Profiting from Probation, a report that confirms the ACLU's worst fears about the privatization of probation services: for-profit companies are increasingly working with county and city courts around the country…

What If the Interracial Family in the Cheerios Ad Consisted of Two Dads?

What If the Interracial Family in the Cheerios Ad Consisted of Two Dads?

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:15pm

I don't know about you, but I love the Cheerios ad featuring the adorable daughter of an interracial couple. It's both sweet and charming, but what I really appreciate is its depiction of a family that is rarely visible on TV even though it is certainly…

An Important Victory for Indian Tribes

An Important Victory for Indian Tribes

By Peter Beauchamp, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 1:20pm

This week, the ACLU won an important battle on the road toward protecting the rights of American Indian children and their parents and tribes. Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken of South Dakota's federal District Court ruled that a lawsuit filed by the ACLU…