GREENSBORO, N.C. — A new exhibit opens today at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, illustrating 50 years of civil rights history and marking the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina’s 50th anniversary.

The state chapter of the national ACLU was founded in 1965 in Greensboro. The ten-panel exhibit includes highlights from the organization’s historic legal campaigns to expand civil liberties, including cases on free speech, race, voting, women, LGBT rights, privacy, the criminal justice system and religious liberty.

“This exhibit provides the public with an opportunity to learn about the history of civil liberties in our state and the unique role the ACLU of North Carolina has played in many important struggles for individual rights over the last half century,” Jennifer Rudinger, ACLU-NC executive director, said in a release. “Much has changed in North Carolina over the last fifty years, but the core principle guiding the ACLU-NC has remained the same: If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everyone’s rights are imperiled.”

Rudinger added, “Those who see this exhibit will hopefully walk away remembering that freedom can’t protect itself, and that the ACLU of North Carolina, while controversial to some, has spent five decades working on the front lines to protect and advance civil liberties for all North Carolinians.”

Some of the significant campaigns included in the exhibit include the founding of the ACLU’s LGBT Rights Project in the 1980s, along with legal fights against North Carolina’s sodomy laws in the 1970s and its current work on parental rights and marriage equality.

An opening reception will be held Jan. 15, 6-8 p.m., at the museum, 134 S. Elm St. in Greensboro. It will remain on display there through March 31. The exhibit will then be displayed at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte from April 4-July 12. Other locations will also host the exhibit this year.

According to the release, the exhibit is sponsored by the ACLU of North Carolina, the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, the Human Rights Archive at the Rubenstein Library, and the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture. Amanda Hughett compiled research for the exhibit, which was designed by Pam Chastain and Jim Jarvis.

The opening panel of the exhibit is shared below. Click to enlarge.

ACLU Introduction panel-page-0


Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.