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GREENSBORO – To commemorate the 50-year anniversary of its founding in Greensboro in 1965, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) is unveiling a 10-panel history exhibit, “ACLU of North Carolina: Fifty Years of Protecting Liberty,” which chronicles the nonprofit civil liberties organization’s work defending civil liberties in North Carolina over the past half century.

The exhibit, which recounts the ACLU-NC’s work on eight key civil liberties issues – free speech, voting rights, privacy rights, criminal justice reform, LGBT rights, women’s rights, racial justice, and religious liberty – is opening at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, which celebrates its fifth anniversary on Feb. 1. An opening reception for the exhibit is planned for 6 to 8 p.m. on  Thursday, January 15.  

“This exhibit provides the public with an opportunity to learn about the history of civil liberties in our state and the unique role the ACLU of North Carolina has played in many important struggles for individual rights over the last half century,” said Jennifer Rudinger, who has served as executive director of the ACLU-NC since May 2004. “Much has changed in North Carolina over the last fifty years, but the core principle guiding the ACLU-NC has remained the same: If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everyone’s rights are imperiled. Those who see this exhibit will hopefully walk away remembering that freedom can’t protect itself, and that the ACLU of North Carolina, while controversial to some, has spent five decades working on the front lines to protect and advance civil liberties for all North Carolinians.”    

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Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, will come to North Carolina in February to deliver the keynote address at the 46th annual Frank Porter Graham Awards Dinner on Saturday, February 28, 2015, in Chapel Hill.      

Romero took the helm of the organization just seven days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national Keep America Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis, achieving court victories challenging the USA Patriot Act, uncovering thousands of pages of documents detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, and filing the first successful legal challenge to the Bush administration's illegal NSA spying program.

An attorney with a history of public interest activism, Romero has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU's history and a large increase in national and affiliate staff. This extraordinary growth has allowed the ACLU to expand its nationwide litigation, lobbying and   public education efforts, including new initiatives focused on human rights, racial justice, religious freedom, technology and privacy, reproductive freedom, criminal law reform and LGBT rights

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RALEIGH – Readers around the country will celebrate Banned Books Week from September 21 to September 27 to draw attention to the threat posed by censorship. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which has helped communities across the state combat several book challenges in the past year, is calling on North Carolinians to use Banned Books Weeks to affirm their support for the freedom to read and to reject calls to deprive students of access to critically acclaimed works of literature.

“The freedom to read is just as essential to a healthy democracy as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and all the other rights protected by our Constitution,” said ACLU-NC Legal Director Chris Brook. “We will continue to work with North Carolinians across the state to combat censorship and protect the freedom to read for students and young people whenever necessary.”

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina is very proud to announce that Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system, will be the keynote speaker at the 45th Annual Frank Porter Graham Awards Ceremony in Chapel Hill on February 15, 2014.

“We have a system of justice in [the U.S.] that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent,” Bryan Stevenson explains in his online TED Talk that has been viewed more than 1.3 million times. “Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.”

Stevenson has been representing capital defendants and death row prisoners in the Deep South since 1985 when he was a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and has since won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color in the criminal justice system.

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