Civil Rights Groups Big and Small

Civil rights, human rights and migrant rights do not seem like topics that need discussed in 2017 in our country, but they are. Our values as citizens and sometimes the values of our leadership are not always in support of these rights.

As a result, countless groups have been formed with the mission of protecting our civil liberties. Some focus on very specific areas and issues, and some have grown nationwide and tackle an array of different areas for several groups of people at the same time.

Two of the most well known of these groups are the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). These represent two of our nation’s oldest and most well respected and well established civil rights organizations that have helped millions of people in their quest for social justice and equality. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: and

The ACLU was founded shortly after WW I, during the 1919-1920 arrest and mistreatment of individuals seen as “radicals” for the spread of Communism. Communist fear and paranoia were high during this time, and many were arrested unlawfully and detained.

A small group of people decided to stand up to this affront of Constitutional rights, and the ACLU was born. Today, the group is more than 1.6 million members strong with over 300 attorneys, thousands of volunteers and offices across the nation.

The NAACP is one of the oldest civil rights organizations in our country. They were founded in 1909 in direct response to the practice of lynching, along with the 1908 race riots in Springfield, IL.

Founded in the city that is both the place of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and his final resting place, a group consisting of 53 white liberals and 7 black activists joined forces to uphold the Constitutional Amendments for the abolishment of slavery, equal protection under the law and voting rights for all men. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia

Civil rights advocacy groups do not have to have the massive following of the NAACP and the ACLU to be effective. Two journalists by the name of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the co-founders of the Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media, have had a major impact on migrant rights in Arizona.

Lacey and Larkin were arrested in their home on October 18, 2007 by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, allegedly for publishing stories regarding the existence of Grand Jury proceedings aimed at obtaining reporters’ notes on the Sheriff. The Grand Jury also requested notes on the readers of these publications.

Lacey and Larkin ultimately filed a lawsuit to protect their First Amendment right, and won $3.75 million. They used this settlement money to start the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, which is used to support the civil liberties and First Amendment rights of migrants.

It is through their perseverance, sense of social justice and generosity that they have given support to a group of people very much in need of their help.