ACLU Names First Black President in 101-Year History

NYU Professor Deborah Archer has been elected as the head of the ACLU, making Archer the first Black American to lead the civil rights organization in its 101-year history. (Photo:

The ACLU has appointed Deborah Archer, a New York University (NYU) law professor and former assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to head the American Civil Liberties Union, making Archer the first Black American to head the organization in the ACLU’s 101-year history.

Archer replaces Susan Herman, who stepped down after serving 12 years leading the organization’s board through watershed moments, including the Trump administration and the emergence of civil liberties and privacy concerns in the digital age.

As the ACLU’s eighth president since 1920, Archer will act as chair of its board of directors, overseeing organizational matters and establishing civil liberties policies. The fight against racial injustice is expected to be a top priority following the ACLU’s record lawsuits against the Trump administration’s policies on immigrant rights, voting rights, LGBT rights, and racial justice.

A Yale law school graduate, Archer was a legal fellow at the ACLU in 1997-98, a board member since 2009, general counsel and member of the board’s executive committee since 2017.

The Smith College and Yale Law school alum serves as professor of Clinical Law at New York University’s School of Law where she also directs their Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law in addition to their Civil Rights Clinic.

“There is no one better equipped, who best personifies or is more capable to helm the future battles for civil rights, civil liberties, and systemic equality than Deborah Archer,” said Anthony Romero, current executive director of the ACLU. Priorities include addressing voting rights issues, anti-immigration policies and anti-abortion laws in GOP-led states.

“After beginning my career as an ACLU fellow, it is an honor to come full circle and now lead the organization as board president,” said the civil rights lawyer and inclusion expert. “The ACLU has proven itself as an invaluable voice in the fight for civil rights in the last four years of the Trump era, and we are better positioned than ever to face the work ahead. This organization has been part of every important battle for civil liberties during our first century, and we are committed to continuing that legacy as we enter our second. I could not be more excited to get to work.”

Read more about Archer at

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual. 

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

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