The ACLU Racial Justice Program aims to preserve and extend constitutionally guaranteed rights to people who have historically been denied their rights on the basis of race.
The authors of the Declaration of Independence outlined a bold vision for America: a nation in which all people would be free and equal. More than two hundred years later, it has yet to be achieved. Though generations of civil rights activism have led to important gains in legal, political, social, employment, educational, and other spheres, the forced removal of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of those of African descent marked the beginnings of a system of racial injustice from which our country has yet to break free. From our public schools where students of color are too often confined to racially isolated, underfunded, and inferior programs, to our criminal justice system that disproportionately targets and incarcerates people of color and criminalizes poverty, to the starkly segregated world of housing, the dream of full equality remains an elusive one.
In pursuit of a world free of discrimination, the Racial Justice Program brings impact lawsuits in state and federal courts throughout the country, taking on cases designed to have a significant and wide-reaching effect on communities of color. In coalition with ACLU affiliates in each state, other civil rights groups, and local advocates, we lobby in local and state legislatures and support grassroots movements. Through these efforts, we strive to educate and empower the public on a variety of issues, including race as it relates to criminal justice, economic justice, and inequality in education; affirmative action; and American Indian rights.