Deborah Archer Becomes First Black Person to Serve as President of the ACLU in Its 101-Year History

Illustration for article titled Deborah Archer Becomes First Black Person to Serve as President of the ACLU in Its 101-Year History
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After 101 years, the American Civil Liberties Union has elected the first Black person to ever serve as the organization’s president.


According to the Associated Press, Deborah Archer was elected over the weekend in a virtual meeting between the organization’s 69-member board of directors. Archer becomes only the eighth person to serve as president of the ACLU and takes over for Susan Herman, who had previously served in the role since 2008.

In her new role, Archer will become chair of the board of directors, will oversee organizational matters and will play a large role in the civil liberties policies the organization wishes to pursue. Issues pertaining to racial injustice are expected to be a priority for 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,” Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement.

Archer currently serves as a professor of clinical law at NYU Law School and has also served as chair to the New York Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates claims of police misconduct. She graduated from Yale Law School, was a legal fellow for the ACLU from 1997-98, and has served on the ACLU’s board since 2009.

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

During the four years of the Trump presidency, the ACLU filed a record 413 lawsuits against the administration, with most challenging the administration’s policies related to racial justice, LGBTQ rights, and voting rights, AP reports. While there is hope in the organization that the Biden administration’s policies in these areas will be less, well, insane, the org is still focusing on fixing the damage that was wrought in the Trump era.


“President Trump may be gone but his toxic legacy on civil rights and civil liberties is still very much with us,” Romero told AP. “It will take years to clean up.”

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