Thursday, June 12, 2008

DC conference day three - reflections on taking action

Stacy's reflections from Tuesday:
The national ACLU membership conference has been really inspiring. One of the cool things about this conference, in addition to seeing all of the young people and the really diverse membership and staff, is how we’ve seen “famous” civil liberty defenders are mingling among our new members and lifetime donors. When I checked in at the registration table, my name tag was in the row next to Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s. I think I’m among kindred spirits.

I learned a lot in the past two days, but I think one of the important takeaway messages has been about what the average person can do to protect civil liberties. The answer was addressed on Sunday night by Arianna Huffington and was reiterated by national ACLU director Anthony Romero when they told people to follow their passion and to learn and take action on what they care about. All important social justice movements are rooted in people acting on what moves them, one day at a time. I would also suggest that people simply become a member of the ACLU. Membership can be both symbolic and financial – each person who joins, no matter at what level, contributes to the sustenance and work we all do together.

Check out the interview with me (Stacy Harbaugh, the ACLU of Wisconsin Community Advocate in the Madison Area Office), on Lee Rayburn’s morning show on The Mic 92.1. Monday morning’s interview was live from the ACLU membership conference and offers reflections on Sunday night’s panels on civil liberties in the media and entertainment and how our Wisconsin members are getting ready for the lobby day today.

We’re looking forward to speaking with Senator Herb Kohl about what we hope he will do to protect FISA courts and privacy, challenge the “E-Verify” system that shifts the responsibility of immigration reform from the federal government to private businesses’ human resources, and demand accountability of our government for the practice of torture and rendition. Representative Baldwin and Senator Feingold will not be meeting with us in person, but we will be visiting with their staff to encourage our legislators to remain leaders in the fight for civil liberties protections.

You can see pictures and video clips on the conference at the national website.

More updates on the participant's experiences at the conference including pictures to come...