This weekend, on March 16 and 17, Phoenix’s Civic Space Park will welcome the ACLU 100 Experience, a traveling interactive exhibition that celebrates our 100th anniversary. This historic milestone comes during a critical time for the ACLU here in Arizona and across the nation.
From reuniting immigrant children with their parents and challenging the Trump administration’s Muslim ban to reducing incarceration and protecting voting rights, we have taken on some of the most challenging civil liberties fights of our lifetimes. And we’re in the best position to take on these fights because we’re stronger than ever thanks to the support and commitment of our members, supporters and volunteer leaders – nearly 1.8 million nationwide and 18,000 here in Arizona.
The ACLU 100 Experience will show the public our history and what lies ahead. Join us for a series of exhibits, interactive dialogues, film screening and performances that will inform the audience about the ACLU’s priority issues.
The ACLU’s 100th anniversary is not the only celebration this year. 2019 is the ACLU of Arizona’s 60th anniversary year. In 1958, three Tucson ACLU members asked members living in Arizona if they thought there was a need for a chapter in Arizona. The response was a resounding “yes,” and one year later we became an official “affiliate” of the National ACLU.
For 60 years, we have fought to defend individual rights in Arizona. One of the first cases the ACLU of Arizona took on was Oyama v. Grace. Henry Oyama, a Tucson resident of Japanese descent, and his fiancé Mary Ann Jordan, who was white, were refused a marriage license by the Pima County clerk. We filed a lawsuit on his behalf, challenging Arizona’s ban on interracial marriages, and the court found the law in violation of the 14th Amendment.
Thanks to brave individuals like Henry and Mary Ann, we’ve been able to create a more just, fair and perfect Arizona. Although our work never stops, it’s important to pause and reflect on all that we have achieved together since 1959. That’s why we launched our very own traveling exhibition, “In This Together,” which features work of dozens of Arizona artists inspired by the ACLU’s mission and values.
By working alongside our members and supporters, including the people who are directly affected by government policies that violate civil liberties, the ACLU can be proactive about policy changes that can have positive outcomes for all Arizonans. Arizona has the fourth highest incarceration rate in the nation and the state spends approximately $1 billion on the Department of Corrections each year. In contrast, Arizona is on the bottom of the list when it comes to education funding and has a student-to-counselor ratio of 758-to-1.
We the people can change these misguided priorities by being deliberate about empowering and developing people to lead the work that impacts them. This is what is happening with the ACLU of Arizona’s Campaign for Smart Justice and Demand to Learn, a campaign to end school pushout in Maricopa County.
The ACLU will continue to be here, as we have been for the past 60 years, standing up for the values of fairness, equality and justice and defending the constitutional rights of all, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, or immigration status.
I am so excited to create the space in Arizona for ACLU supporters and activists to connect with others who share a desire to create a more just society. Help us celebrate the ACLU’s accomplishment and learn more about what we hope to achieve with your support.
RSVP for the ACLU 100 Experience at www.aclu100.org/phoenix.
Make sure you check out our 60th anniversary celebration—“In This Together,” a traveling art exhibition—as it tours through Arizona. Find a list of dates and stops at https://www.acluaz.org/en/together-60th-anniversary-exhibition.