ACLU Names Dennis Parker Director of Racial Justice Program

June 12, 2006 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that Dennis D. Parker has assumed the role of Director of the organization’s Racial Justice Program. Parker is responsible for overseeing the program’s efforts in combating discrimination and addressing other issues with a disproportionate impact on communities of color.

“It is extremely gratifying to be at the forefront of a holistic approach to tackling racism in America,” Parker said. “The ACLU addresses not only the traditional issues of race, but also emerging issues such as those faced by people of the Middle East and South Asia. Investigating all aspects of racism in America will bring a wide array of people together in the struggle.”

Under Parker’s leadership, the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program will continue to address racial injustice in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in which African Americans have been in danger of losing the opportunity to vote, were overwhelmingly displaced, and comprised the majority of a group of prisoners left behind bars in rising flood waters. The program will remain vigilant in fighting the “School-to-Prison” Pipeline, which is increasingly pushing a disproportionate number of young Native American, Latino and Black students into the juvenile justice system unnecessarily. Also on the program’s continued agenda are the profiling of airline passengers subjected to searches and wrongfully placed on watch lists; immigrants’ rights, rules on English proficiency in schools; and reducing the level of racial bias in the criminal justice system.

“The Racial Justice Program has grown, expanded and become more vital than ever in recent years,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “We are fortunate to have someone of Dennis’ talents, commitment and vision. We have every confidence that Dennis is going to complete the process of bringing this vital work to center stage within the organization and in our national discussions.”

Prior to joining the ACLU, Parker was the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the Office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer where he oversaw the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in housing, employment, voting, public accommodations and credit. He spent 14 years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he supervised the litigation of scores of cases throughout the country in matters involving elementary and secondary education, affirmative action in higher education and equal educational opportunity.

Parker has also worked with the New York Legal Aid Society. He is the author of the 1993 edition of the Fair Housing Litigation Handbook and he wrote a chapter in this year’s Awakening from the Dream: Civil Rights Under Siege and the New Struggle for Equal Justice. He teaches Race, Poverty and Constitutional Law at Columbia University’s School Law Institute and is a graduate of Middlebury College and Harvard Law School.

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