The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a gallery exhibit and discussions about civil rights at the University of Louisville.
The exhibit is titled “Moving Justice Forward for 60 Years,” and opened Thursday evening at the U of L’s Ekstrom Library and will remain through March.
The ACLU of Kentucky is also sponsoring one program a month at the university beginning Jan. 21 to highlight historical and current civil liberties issues (see more below).
The advocacy group was founded after the Carl Braden sedition trial in the 1950s. After that case, the group of local attorneys that represented Braden “realized that there were a lot of other issues that they could have an impact on here in Kentucky,” said Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky.
In the 1960s and 1970s the group worked on busing and desegregation—issues that have been longstanding in Louisville. It has also been instrumental in cases involving the separation between church and state, namely challenging the hanging of the Ten Commandments in public buildings in McCreary and Pulaski counties.
“Most of the national precedence on church/state issues are Kentucky cases that we’ve argued over the years that have reached the Supreme Court,” said Aldrich.
For the last 25 years, he said, the ACLU of Kentucky has had a “reproductive freedom” project in the state.
“It remains a major issue in the commonwealth,” he said.
In fact, abortion rollback legislation has already been filed in the Kentucky legislature for this current session and a hearing on that legislation was scheduled for Thursday, said Aldridge.
Currently, the ACLU of Kentucky is focused on LGBT and immigrants rights issues. The group has also been an important force in changing certain criminal justice laws, he said.
To commemorate the group’s work over the last 60 years, the ACLU of Kentucky will host the exhibit and three programs at U of L’s Chao Auditorium over the next three months.
The programs include a panel discussion on Roe v. Wade on Jan. 21 . There will be a discussion about immigrants rights issues led by an undocumented immigrant on Feb. 12. Finally, there will be a discussion about LGBT rights beginning from the 1980s to the present day on Mar. 10.