Racial Discrimination

Scottsboro Boys Exonerated, But Troubling Legacy Remains for Black Men

Scottsboro Boys Exonerated, But Troubling Legacy Remains for Black Men

By Dennis Parker, Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 4:01pm
The Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole's posthumous pardon today of the last of the black men wrongly convicted of the rape of two white women 82 years ago in Scottsboro, Alabama seems to write the final chapter of a sorry story that epitomizes the racial injustice and procedural unfairness that dominated the criminal justice system in the United States in the beginning of the last century. It would be difficult to concoct a process more unfair from beginning to end. Starting with the arrest of nine black men and boys on fabricated and completely contradictory allegations of the rape of two white women, the case proceeded through a serious of rushed and unfair trials. The defendants were represented by counsel wholly unfamiliar with criminal defense work and unable to conduct even the most basic investigations. The jury deciding the case completely excluded African Americans and their deliberations were conducted under the very real threat of the lynching of the defendants. Although the alleged victims ultimately recanted their stories and admitted that their allegations of rape were complete fabrications, all of the men were convicted and all but one sentenced to death. During the case seemingly every ugly stereotype appeared, from the depiction of the criminally rapacious black male intent on ravishing white women to the attacks on the counsel who ultimately took on the case on remand as meddling communistic Jewish lawyers from New York.
What a Waste

What a Waste

By Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher, Human Rights Program, ACLU at 9:51am

It's time to abandon the mindset that our criminal justice system should only be about extreme, one-size-fits-all punishment – particularly when the skyrocketing number of these sentences being meted out is grossly out of proportion with crime rates, which are falling.

Shopping While Black: Harms Go Deeper Than You Think

Shopping While Black: Harms Go Deeper Than You Think

By Dennis Parker, Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 12:03pm

Just in case we need reminders that too many people share the bias linking all black people with criminality, New York newspapers over the last two weeks were filled with stories of Black and Latino shoppers who were questioned and detained for suspicion…

"I’ll Never See My Son's Prom Picture"

"I’ll Never See My Son's Prom Picture"

By Alex Berger, Legislative Assistant, ACLU at 3:00pm

Lucille MacBeth, mother of slain Florida teen Jordan Russell Davis, did all she could to keep from crying during her testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution earlier this week. After nearly five minutes of testimony,…

Today We Honor Native Americans (And Not That Other Guy)

Today We Honor Native Americans (And Not That Other Guy)

By Courtney Bowie, Racial Justice Program at 12:43pm

Today, there is a federal holiday in honor of Christopher Columbus, but in South Dakota, citizens celebrate Native American Day "dedicated to the remembrance of the great Native American leaders who contributed so much to the history of [their] state."…

Challenging the Ignorance of a Hate Attack

Challenging the Ignorance of a Hate Attack

By Prabhjot Singh, Assistant Professor, Columbia University at 2:35pm

On September 21, I took a walk with a friend near Central Park after dropping off my wife and 1-year-old son. A group of young men on bikes saw my turban and beard – distinctly identifiable features of a devout Sikh – and yelled "Osama" and "Terrorist"…

Is Your Turn-By-Turn Navigation Application Racist?

Is Your Turn-By-Turn Navigation Application Racist?

By Joe Silver, Washington Legislative Office, ACLU at 10:32am

Last month, a web-based service called “Ghetto Tracker” was unveiled. The site’s creator touted it as a travel advice service where users could pin digital maps with safety ratings to enable those new to town to avoid dodgy neighborhoods. While…

Judge to Sikh Man: Remove "That Rag"

Judge to Sikh Man: Remove "That Rag"

By Bear Atwood, ACLU at 4:57pm

Today, in a letter to the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the ACLU and United Sikhs called on state officials to investigate the harassment of a Sikh commercial truck driver pulled over early this year for a flat tire.  After…

50 Years after the Dream: Why Are We Filling our Jails with Kids of Color?

50 Years after the Dream: Why Are We Filling our Jails with Kids of Color?

By Mishi Faruqee, Juvenile Justice Policy Strategist, ACLU at 2:22pm

This week, fifty years after the March on Washington, President Obama stood on the National Mall and listed out some of the unfinished business of the civil rights movement. High up on the list: not letting our criminal justice system become "simply…

The Fierce Urgency of Now

The Fierce Urgency of Now

By Dennis Parker, Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program at 12:09pm

For me, few anniversaries inspire as much ambivalence as the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Billed as the "March for Jobs and Freedom," the event stands as both a shining example of the promise of the civil rights era and a reminder of…

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