ACLU History: Uprooting Racism in the South

September 1, 2010
In the 1960s, the fight for racial justice took on new life as the battleground moved to the Deep South. The emerging leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. focused national attention on the segregation and suppression of blacks in the South, while the ACLU and other advocates became increasingly energized to help the growing civil rights movement. Sit-ins protesting segregation at lunch counters and other public accommodations abounded. Civil rights marches met with stiff resistance in the form of fire hoses, tear gas and beatings. Thousands were arrested and jailed, generating a growing need for attorneys to represent those charged, as well as to pursue expanding litigation efforts. The ACLU became the principal organizer of a coalition of groups providing lawyers for Deep South civil rights work – the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee (LCDC) – and provided more than a third of the funds necessary for its operation. Volunteer lawyers went to small southern towns to work on cases in coordination with LCDC regional offices.


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