60 Years of Protecting Civil Liberties in the Commonwealth

2015 marks an important milestone of the ACLU of Kentucky, our 60th anniversary of protecting your liberty here in the commonwealth. A group of Kentuckians, shocked and outraged at the “pervasive fog of guilt” that permeated Kentucky in the mid-1950’s during the McCarthy era, came together to charter the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union (KCLU, our original name). The charges of sedition against Louisville activists Carl and Anne Braden for purchasing a home on behalf of African Americans (the Wade Family) were the spark that spurred the KCLU founders to action. The KCLU represented Carl Braden on the appeal of his conviction, eventually securing a reversal after SCOTUS declared all state sedition laws unconstitutional. Since the early days, our organization has expanded from a group of volunteers to a staff of seven. Our work has expanded outside of the courtroom to include advocacy at the capitol, and education and organizing in communities across the state. What remains the same is our steadfast commitment to defend the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people by the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Starting next week, and throughout 2015 we will explore the history of our organization through the 60 Faces of Liberty project. Each week we will share a profile of a client, board or staff member, coalition partner, or case that tells part of this organization’s rich history. The profiles will be shared here on our website, and also on our social media platforms on Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to our story-sharing throughout the year, we are pleased to be partnering with the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections on an exhibit marking the 60th anniversary of the organization’s founding. It will be located in the Lee and Joy Pennington Cultural Heritage Gallery (Ekstrom Library, basement level).

The exhibit is slated to open with an evening reception January 8, 2015 and will remain in place for students and the community to explore through the end of March. Throughout the spring, the ACLU of Kentucky will be sponsoring programming with a variety of UofL units to highlight historical and current civil liberties issues. Scheduled events in the Chao Auditorium include:

January 8, 2015 60 Faces of Liberty Opening Reception 5-7PM (6PM remarks in the Chao, screening of ACLU of KY anniversary videos produced by Kertis Creative made possible by a grant from the Fund for Louisville at the Community Foundation of Louisville)

Presented in collaboration with the UofL Archives and Special Collections


January 21, 2015 Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Panel Discussion Noon-1PM

Sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department


February 12, 2015 Exploration of the History of LGBT Rights Movements 5-7:30PM

Sponsored by the LGBT Center

We are currently planning other events throughout the state during 2015, including an anniversary gala in the fall. Make sure we have your current contact information so you will receive information and invitations to all of these exciting events. Have historic pictures or items you would like to share this anniversary year? Contact our communications manager at Amber@aclu-ky.org.


A special thanks to our generous exhibit sponsors:

Justice Council ($500-$999)

University of Louisville Department of History

University of Louisville Commission on Diversity and Racial Equity (CODRE)

University of Louisville College of Arts & Sciences-International, Diversity, and Outreach Programs

University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law

Freedom Committee ($100-$499)

University of Louisville LGBT Center

University of Louisville Department of Women’s and Gender Studies

University of Louisville Political Science Department’s Diversity and Retention Committee