1981 August 31

Final Testament: ACLU Founder Baldwin Says “Assert Your Rights or Lose Them”


Five days after ACLU founder Roger Baldwin died, on August 26, 1981, The New York Times published an op-ed piece by him, declaring “Assert Your Rights or Lose Them.” It was a final testament by the 97-year-old civil liberties crusader who founded the ACLU on January 19, 1920, and served as its director for 30 years. In the 1920s, Baldwin’s name was synonymous with civil liberties.

The ACLU evolved out the Civil Liberties Bureau (NCLB), which Baldwin and Crystal Eastman founded in April 1917, when the U.S. entered World War I. A committee of the American Union Against Militarism (AUAM), the CLB aided conscientious objectors and fought the suppression of free speech. The Civil Liberties Bureau became an independent organization, the National Civil Liberties Bureau (NCLB). See July 2, 1917 and November 1, 1917.

Read: Robert Cottrell, Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union (2000)

Watch the documentary on Baldwin, Traveling Hopefullyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND_uY_KXGgY

Learn more about Baldwin and ACLU history: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Learn more about the ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

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