Today we honor the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass, a world-renowned abolitionist and steadfast supporter of human rights. Douglass was enslaved from birth, but escaped at the age of 20. His exact birthday is unknown as there were often no records kept for slaves.

I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it. By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant. I do not remember…


By Novella Coleman

On Friday night at a rally in Alabama, home of the Confederate’s first capital, Donald Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”

Trump’s remarks clearly targeted the mostly Black NFL players who have sat, knelt, and raised a fist as the national anthem plays before the game. …


By Abdi Soltani, Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California

Last weekend, I was flooded by email and text messages from people contacting me both for legal help for their families stranded at airports and from people contacting me to find out how they can help. Being Iranian-American and working at the ACLU, the incoming messages came from both those worlds that are integral to my life.

As we roll up our sleeves for the work ahead, I want to thank the countless people who have stepped forward to support the ACLU. …


In 1961, the ACLU successfully fought back against McCarthyism and demonstrated that lies can wither in the face of truth.

Demonstrators protest the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings at San Francisco City Hall in 1960.

By Bethany Woolman

“If you’re to be called a communist every time you stand up for basic American rights and freedoms, what’s likely to happen? Will you be silent? And if so, is this what the House Committee on Un-American Activities is really after — a silent, submissive, un-protesting America?”
-Ernest Besig, “Operation Correction,” 1961

Fifty-five years ago this January, the ACLU of Northern California was busy filling orders from across the country for copies of its recently produced film, “Operation Correction.” The film was a response to a piece of Red Scare propaganda, “Operation Abolition,” which was produced by…


Rising became a metaphor for me as I wound my way up the levels of the museum.

By Candice Francis

On opening day of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., I crossed the threshold of this impressive edifice with a memory deeply embedded in my psyche.

Many years ago, I visited West Africa for an extended stay and had the opportunity to return to the U.S. on the Black Star Line, the Ghanaian government’s now defunct shipping corporation that operated commercial freighters with a few modest cabins for civilian passengers. We embarked in the port city of Takoradi and made stops in Dakar, Senegal, and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to load…


The lessons of internment should be clear: Racial and religious profiling are never warranted.

My mother, Amy Iwasaki Mass, with her family at the Heart Mountain Internment Camp.

By Julia Harumi Mass

My mother was seven years old when she and her family were evacuated from the West Coast and forced to live in an Army barrack behind barbed wire in an internment camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

Born in Los Angeles, she had been taught in school to be a proud and loyal American citizen, so the wholesale exclusion and relocation of her community was both terrifying and confusing. On the journey to Wyoming, the prisoners were ordered to keep their shades down when the train passed through towns; my mother thought this must be because people…


By Matt Cagle
October 11, 2016

The ACLU of California has obtained records showing that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram provided user data access to Geofeedia, a developer of a social media monitoring product that we have seen marketed to law enforcement as a tool to monitor activists and protesters.

We are pleased that after we reported our findings to the companies, Instagram cut off Geofeedia’s access to public user posts, and Facebook has cut its access to a topic-based feed of public user posts. …


By Nicole Ozer

It goes without saying that speaking out against police violence or government overreach shouldn’t land you in a surveillance database. But it can, and it does.

The ACLU of California has received thousands of pages of public records revealing that law enforcement agencies across the state are secretly acquiring social media spying software that can sweep activists into a web of digital surveillance.

A document from our investigation refers to activist groups as “overt threats.”

This set of public records requests is part of our ongoing work with community groups to shine a light on surveillance technologies and call for community control in decision-making around policing. Last year, we…


By Dion Manuel Wright

Driving is not a luxury for me, it’s a necessity. Español abajo.

My life depends on driving. And Santa Clara County wants to take away my license.

I’m sure there are lots of other people out there in situations like mine.

I’m 46 and in extremely poor health, dealing with a long list of illnesses, including end-stage renal disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, gout, hypertension, and high blood pressure. They call me a “high-risk” patient. I’m barely getting by on my social security check of $910 per month.

I was diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager…


By Abre’ Conner and Novella Coleman

ACLU lawyers are used to taking on injustice and speaking out on behalf of our clients. This time the discrimination happened to us.

We began the evening on a quest for a good karaoke night, and went to a bar in Fresno, Calif., called The Brig.

After waiting for more than half an hour to sing, we started to wonder when our number would be called. We planned to sing a hip hop and R&B hit from the ’90s — TLC’s Waterfalls.

But before our song was called, a bar employee came up and…

ACLU of Northern CA

We like justice, freedom, equality, and short walks on the beach. Followed by more justice.

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