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Wisconsin Civil Libertarians Honored at ACLU’s 2012 Bill of Rights Celebration

23 Mar Solidarity Sing Along

On Saturday, March 17ththe American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin Foundation celebrated a year of civil liberties defense and leadership at the annual Bill of Rights Celebration event. We recognized some of the volunteers and activists who were leaders among civil libertarians in our state. And we welcomed speaker Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU’s National Voting Rights Project who put Wisconsin’s new voter ID law in a historical context of voter suppression.

ACLU's National Voting Rights Project Director Laughlin McDonald

ACLU's National Voting Rights Project Director Laughlin McDonald

McDonald has been the director of the Atlanta-based Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union since 1972 and has been an attorney and law professor. ACLU supporters in the audience may have known the history of poll taxes, literacy tests and other voter suppression efforts that have come and gone in America. But upon hearing McDonald’s review of why the Voting Rights Act was so important to fight discriminatory practices like requiring black voters to have a white voter vouch for them at the polls, we were all reminded that making it harder to vote for anyone is an offense to our democracy. McDonald’s experience has made him a deeply well-respected leader in the work to protect voting rights and his wisdom was shared at a critical time in Wisconsin as our new voter ID law has recently been stopped by a state judge and the ACLU of Wisconsin’s federal lawsuit continues.

Each year we recognize some of the civil libertarians in Wisconsin who made a difference.

ACLU of Wisconsin Youth Legal Observers

ACLU of Wisconsin Youth Legal Observers

The Jack and Lucy Rosenberg Youth Civil Libertarian of the Year was given to some of our Young Legal Observers for their immediate and energetic response to the need to document the rights of protesters in Madison and Milwaukee, particularly during the large-scale protests at our Capitol in 2011. These young people have been trained to be witnesses at demonstrations and to document any violations of First Amendment rights that may occur in our public spaces. Accepting the award, Josh Del Colle spoke about how the ACLU of Wisconsin has been instrumental in teaching young people about their rights.

Solidarity Sing Along

Members of the Solidarity Sing Along

The William Gorham Rice Civil Libertarian of the Year was given to the Solidarity Sing Along, for expression of the First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of assembly. The Solidarity Sing Along is an event that has occurred at the state Capitol every weekday since March 11, 2011 soon after the building was ordered to be reopened after massive demonstrations. For the past year, participants of the Solidarity Sing Along have demonstrated a clear commitment to protecting peaceful expression in the Capitol rotunda. Singing a rendition of “We Shall Not Be Moved,” the audience stood and sang with the Solidarity Sing Along participants who traveled from Madison to be a part of the celebration. Song leader Chris Reeder gave an inspired acceptance speech in which he said our civil liberties are only protected when we use them and after this year, he would never take those basic rights for granted again.

Rose Daitsman

Rose Daitsman

Finally the Eunice Z. Edgar Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Rose Daitsman for her life-long dedication to economic and gender equality and social reform. Upon accepting the award, Rose have a nod to her involvement with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom by quoting Jane Addams and talking eloquently about how the work to protect individual rights must be done by each generation. Rose Daitsman has been a member of the ACLU of Wisconsin since 1989 and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Milwaukee ACLU Chapter. She worked to promote gender equity and the elimination of racial discrimination in engineering education, and has worked to promote the implementation of Civil Rights Law and the Human Rights Treaties of the United Nations.

A special thank you to our major sponsors:

The Islamic Society of Milwaukee

Hawks Quindel S.C.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts

Friends of Jane Addams: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Bill Lynch & Barbara Manger

Athan & Nancy Theoharis

Azeeza Islam and Musical Infinity

Thanks to silent auction donors

Thanks to silent auction donors

Also big thanks to all of our silent auction donors including Alterra Coffee, American Civil Liberties Union, American Players Theatre, Art Night Books, Athan Theoharis, Brennan’s, Chippewa Valley authors, City Tin, photographer Phil Ejercito, Harley-Davidson, artist Helen Klebesadel, Lela Boutique, Lynden Sculpture Garden, Laughlin McDonald, the Milwaukee Admirals, Milwaukee Art Museum’s Outsider Art, the Milwaukee Brewers, Pfister Hotel, Karl Ratzsch’s German Restaurant, Skylight Music Theatre, Solidarity Sing Along, Smac Design

ACLU of WI Announces Civil Liberties Awards, Bill of Rights Celebration for March 17

8 Feb

On Saturday, March 17, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and its supporters will recognize some of Wisconsin’s notable civil libertarians at the annual Bill of Rights Celebration. This year’s special guest will be Laughlin McDonald, Director of the ACLU’s national Voting Rights Project. The event is themed “This is What Democracy Looks Like,” to celebrate Wisconsin’s commitment to civil liberties and democratic values.

The ACLU of Wisconsin will recognize accomplishments of civil libertarians over the past year through the following awards:

William Gorham Rice Civil Libertarian of the Year: Solidarity Sing Along, for expression of the First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of assembly. The Solidarity Sing Along is an event that has occurred at the state Capitol every weekday since March 11, 2011 soon after the building was ordered to be reopened after massive demonstrations. For the past year, participants of the Solidarity Sing Along have demonstrated a clear commitment to protecting peaceful expression in the Capitol rotunda.

Eunice Z. Edgar Lifetime Achievement Award: Rose Daitsman, for her life-long dedication to economic and gender equality and social reform. Rose Daitsman has been a member of the ACLU of Wisconsin since 1989 and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Milwaukee ACLU Chapter. She worked to promote gender equity and the elimination of racial discrimination in engineering education, and has worked to promote the implementation of Civil Rights Law and the Human Rights Treaties of the United Nations. Daitsman’s lifetime of leadership and activism is rooted in a commitment to protecting peace and human dignity. A few of her recognitions include the US Department of Energy’s Math/Science Leadership Award, World Federalist Peace Award, and the Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jack and Lucy Rosenberg Youth Civil Libertarian of the Year: Young Legal Observers for their immediate and energetic response to the need to document the rights of protesters in Madison and Milwaukee. These young people have been trained to be witnesses at demonstrations and to document any violations of First Amendment rights that may occur in our public spaces. Their volunteerism, no matter what the weather or long hours, helps to defend free speech in Wisconsin. 

Special guest speaker, Laughlin McDonald, has been the director of the Atlanta-based Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union since 1972 and has been an attorney and law professor. He has represented racial and language minorities in discrimination cases and specialized in the area of voting rights. He has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, testified frequently before Congress, and written for scholarly and popular publications on civil liberties issues. His most recent books are A Voting Rights Odyssey: Black Enfranchisement in Georgia, and American Indians and the Fight for Equal Voting Rights.

For updates on this event, follow #BoRC on Twitter. Register for the event online at: www.aclu-wi/BORCThe event is held annually as a benefit for the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation’s legal program and work to educate Wisconsin residents about their civil liberties and rights. This year’s event will be held at the Pfister Hotel at 424 East Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee and begins at 6:00 p.m.  To sponsor our awards, please contact Development Director Kristin Hansen khansen@aclu-wi.org or by phone 414-272-4032 extension 228.

Help support the civil liberties news and opinion you get on Forward for Liberty. Join the ACLU of Wisconsin today or make a tax-deductible donation to the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation. Your contribution keeps Forward for Liberty, action alerts via email and social media, and other nonpartisan watchdog efforts going.

Saturday, We’re Recognizing Wisconsin’s Endangered Civil Liberties and Honoring Racial Justice, Education, and Housing Advocates

16 Mar

On Saturday, March 19, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin members and supporters will recognize some of Wisconsin’s community leaders in civil liberties at its annual Bill of Rights Celebration. This year’s special guest will be actor and comedian Aasif Mandvi.


Aasif Mandvi will share his experiences of growing up as an Indian Muslim in the United States, acting in Hollywood, and working with the ACLU to bring awareness to the experiences of victims of torture and rendition. Mandvi is best known in his work as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Several outstanding organizations and community leaders who work to protect freedom in Wisconsin will receive awards from the ACLU of Wisconsin:

Barbara Munson: The Eunice Z. Edgar Lifetime Achievement Award – Munson will be recognized for her many years of work to encourage schools to eliminate race-based mascots. As chair of the “Indian” Mascot and Logo Taskforce for the Wisconsin Indian Education Association since its inception in 1997, the Taskforce actively worked to support the 31 Wisconsin school districts that have retired race-based mascots and was instrumental in the passage of Act 250 in 2010.

Tenants of the South Milwaukee Lake Bluff Apartments: William Gorham Rice Civil Libertarians of the Year Award – Residents of Lake Bluff filed a federal complaint of housing discrimination in 2003 when it was clear that their city government intended to raze the integrated, accessible, affordable housing complex. The ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation, Legal Action of Wisconsin and the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee assisted the families in court where a federal jury found that tearing down the apartments would have a discriminatory effect on persons of color and persons with disabilities.

Riverside University High School Teachers, Bonnie Brusky, Paul Moga and Tom Wild: Jack and Lucy Rosenberg Youth Civil Libertarian of the Year Award – Riverside University High School in Milwaukee’s core values in teaching include social responsibility and justice. These teachers’ leadership has paved the way for students to participate in powerful social awareness programs about racial justice, homelessness and the importance of civic participation. Participants in Riverside’s ACLU Student Alliance have gone on to become young community leaders in Milwaukee.

The event is held annually as a benefit for the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation’s work to educate Wisconsin residents about their civil rights. This year’s event will be held at the Pfister Hotel at 424 East Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee and begins at 6:00 p.m. A private reception with Mandvi is available at a separate ticket price.

Tickets are still available: Please visit the event webpage to order tickets online or contact Emily Plagman by email or phone at (414) 272-4032 extension 24.