BY Ama Nunoo, 1:00pm February 02, 2021,

Jamaican-born Deborah Archer elected first Black president of the ACLU in 101-year history

Deborah Archer is the first Black president f the ACLU. Photo: Philip Greenberg/AP

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has elected its first Black President in its 101-year history. Deborah Archer, a clinal law professor at New York University School of Law, was elected virtually over the weekend by the union’s 69-member board of directors and she brings to this position her expertise in civil rights and racial justice.

Now as ACLU president Archer succeeds Susan Herman, a Brooklyn Law School professor who has been president since 2008. She will act as the chair of the board of directors overseeing organizational matters and the setting of civil liberties policies.

The fight against racial injustice is expected to be a top priority. However, the organization’s day-to-day operations are managed by its executive director, Anthony D. Romero.

Per their press release, Archer has a long history with ACLU joining at the beginning of her prolific career as a legal fellow in its Racial Justice Program and has been a board member since 2009 and only began work as their general counsel in 2017.

“After beginning my career as an ACLU fellow, it is an honor to come full circle and now lead the organization as board president,” said Archer.

“The ACLU has proven itself as an invaluable voice in the fight for civil rights in the last four years of the Trump era, and we are better positioned than ever to face the work ahead.

This organization has been part of every important battle for civil liberties during our first century, and we are committed to continuing that legacy as we enter our second. I could not be more excited to get to work,” she added.

Aside from her professorship Archer is the director of the Civil Rights Clinic at New York University School of Law and a co-faculty director of the Center on Race Inequality and the Law at NYU Law.

She as also served in the capacity of inaugural dean of diversity and inclusion and as associate dean for academic affairs and student engagement at New York Law School.

According to Romero, there is no person better suited to launch the ACLU into its next phase than Archer.

“There is no one better equipped, who best personifies or is more capable to helm the future battles for civil rights, civil liberties, and systemic equality than Deborah Archer.”

Archer, born to Jamaican parents, has also worked as assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and is a former associate at Simpson Thacher and Bartlett. She served as chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, and on numerous non-profit boards, including the Legal Aid Society and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. 

Last year was a tumultuous one for everyone especially since America dealt with the novel coronavirus amid calls for racial equality. The fight against white supremacy and racism last year, which according to the ACLU can only be rivaled by the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s, ultimately culminated in the highest voter turnout in American history.

According to a statement, ACLU “filed its 413th legal action against the Trump administration, took over 100 legal actions in response to the pandemic, continued its work to protect protestors, and filed more than 37 lawsuits to ensure access to the polls” as it celebrated its centennial year.

“The ACLU has proven itself as an invaluable voice in the fight for civil rights in the last four years of the Trump era, and we are better positioned than ever to face the work ahead,” Archer said.

Last Edited by:Nii Ntreh Updated: February 2, 2021


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