National ACLU Director Anthony Romero to Speak at Arkansas Banquet

Affiliate: ACLU of Arkansas
November 7, 2006 12:00 am

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ACLU of Arkansas Honors State Representative Joyce Elliott as Civil Libertarian of the Year

LITTLE ROCK – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas will host national ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero at its annual banquet here tomorrow night. State Representative Joyce Elliott will be honored at the banquet as Civil Libertarian of the Year for her work to protect civil rights and ensure equality for all Arkansans.

“Anthony’s work to strengthen and support small ACLU affiliates such as ours is immeasurable,” said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “Anthony has addressed head-on the fact that the rural states where the small ACLU offices are often have the worst civil liberties problems and the least resources.”

Romero took the helm of the national ACLU in September 2001, just four days before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Shortly after, the ACLU launched its national Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis. Under Romero’s leadership, the ACLU gained court victories on the Patriot Act and filed landmark litigation on the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. Most recently, the ACLU successfully challenged the Bush administration’s illegal spying program.

Romero, an attorney with a history of public-interest activism, has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU’s 86-year history and more than doubled the budget and national staff of the organization since he began his tenure. This unprecedented growth has allowed the ACLU to expand its litigation, lobbying and public education efforts, including new initiatives focused on racial justice, religious freedom, privacy, reproductive freedom and lesbian and gay rights.

Rep. Joyce Elliott was born in Willisville, Arkansas and was elected to the state legislature in 2000. She earned degrees in English and speech from Southern Arkansas University in 1973 and a graduate degree in English from Ouachita Baptist University in 1981. She taught high school students for 31 years, including her first two years in the state House of Representatives, and is the current chair of the House Education Committee. Rep. Elliott has been a consistent progressive voice during her time in the legislature, and has championed bills to further immigrants’ rights and end discrimination against gays and lesbians. This is her last year in the House because of the state’s term limits, but she was recently named a co-chair of Governor-elect Mike Beebe’s transition team.

“Joyce was one of the few in the Legislature dedicated to preserving civil liberties. Her eloquent and persuasive voice, speaking up for the rights of ordinary Arkansans, will be missed,” said Sklar.

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