On Sunday, January 12 from 2:30 – 4:30 pm, the ACLU of Missouri and Washington University Libraries will join forces to present an exhibition and community party to showcase a century of ACLU work.
For the past three years, Washington University Library archivists and student interns poured through a century of ACLU history. Missouri is one of the oldest ACLU affiliates in the nation.
“The history of the American Civil Liberties Union is forever entwined with the history of St. Louis and Washington University,” notes Miranda Rectenwald, Curator of Local History for the Washington University Libraries’ Julian Edison Department of Special Collections. Roger Baldwin moved to St. Louis in 1906 where he taught the first courses in sociology at Washington University. Inspired by his work in St. Louis, Baldwin went on to establish the national ACLU in New York City.
The exhibit offers a window into the vast work done by the ACLU of Missouri over the past 100 years, including fights to protect free speech, early efforts for LGBTQ+ rights, and more. The struggle to end police brutality and to close inhumane jails is a thread that runs throughout the exhibit, beginning with cases in the 1930s to the present day.
“At the ACLU, we often say, ‘we were made for this moment,’” said Anthony Rothert, the organization’s legal director and interim executive director. “On Sunday, we will honor the people who fought with us over the last century. We will give a special award to our first executive director, Joyce Armstrong, who served for 25 years. We are powerful today because of Joyce and other activists.”