ACLU to Honor Bishop Barber and Prof. Wong for Outstanding Contributions to Civil Rights

May 12, 2022 2:00 pm

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LOS ANGELES — The American Civil Liberties Union will honor Bishop William Barber II with the Medal of Liberty and Professor Tom Wong with the Presidential Prize on May 14 in Los Angeles.

Bishop William J. Barber II is being recognized with the Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty for his indispensable role in the social justice movement and commitment to ending systemic racism and poverty. In addition to being a ​​pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Bishop Barber is president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and co-chairs the Poor People's Campaign (PPC): A National Call for Moral Revival, which seeks economic justice across racial lines for people affected by poverty in the United States. He is also the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013.

The Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty, named in honor of one of the ACLU’s principal founders, was established in 1989 and is presented biennially by the ACLU to recognize an exceptional contribution on behalf of civil liberties. The award includes a financial component, typically in the amount of $30,000. Past recipients have included Dolores Huerta, Vice President of the United Farmworkers of America AFL-CIO, and Desmond Meade, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which restored the voting rights of 1.4 million formerly incarcerated Floridians.

Dr. Tom K. Wong is being recognized with the ACLU Presidential Prize for his significant contributions to advancing immigrants’ rights. Dr. Wong is an associate professor of political science and founding director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at the University of California, San Diego. His work explores the links between immigration, race and ethnicity, and the politics of identity. Dr. Wong's research has been used in several federal lawsuits to defend DACA, end family separation at the southern border, and to prohibit indefinite child detention. He has served in many prestigious roles advising policymakers, including as co-director of the Human Rights and Migration program and as an advisor to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) under the Obama administration, where he co-led the immigration portfolio.

The ACLU Presidential Prize was established in 2013 and is given biennially to a full-time academic in any discipline for outstanding contributions to civil liberties, either during the period preceding the award or, preferably, for a lifetime contribution. The award includes a financial stipend, typically in the amount of $10,000. Past recipients have included David Cole, Michelle Alexander, David Goldberger, and Katherine Beckett.

“It’s a great privilege to be able to honor both of these civil rights and social justice pioneers,” said ACLU President Deborah Archer. “Bishop Barber’s leadership is second to none in advancing the fight for racial and economic equity. We are honored to fight alongside him by joining the Mass Poor People's & Low Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March. And Dr. Wong has had an enormous impact, benefiting policymakers and organizations fighting for immigrant communities. We thank them for their ongoing commitments to fighting for the rights of all.”

Both awards will be given at a special gala dinner at the ACLU 2022 Biennial Leadership Conference in Los Angeles on May 14. The gala will be attended by board leaders and executive directors from the ACLU national office and each of the 53 ACLU affiliates from across the country.

This year’s honorees were named by a selection committee chaired by ACLU President Archer, and included the following members: Fred Blackwell, Diana Daniels, Annie Dorsen, Susan Herman, Steve Shapiro, and Brian Tate.

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