Roberta “Birdie” Reed

I clearly recall the moment I began what’s been a lifelong commitment to the ACLU/SC. It was sometime before 1962, the year my daughter was born, and I picked up the Los Angeles Times. There was a huge ad that asked: Do you believe in separation of church and state? Do you believe in equality for all? There were other questions, too. I marked them all yes. The last line of the ad said, “Then you support the mission of the ACLU. Join.” I did.

Then, in 1965, the Watts revolt erupted. Police arrested more than 4,000 people. Many were innocent. The ACLU/SC came to their defense. This organization has never been afraid to speak out for justice, in big and small ways, and even when it’s politically unpopular. I have seen that first-hand.

In 2002, the ACLU/SC once again denounced the mass targeting of innocent men, when federal officials mandated that men and boys from some Muslim countries had to register with immigration officials. The move stoked anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of 9/11. Many people were needlessly detained. The Orange County chapter of the ACLU/SC, along with Muslim advocates, was on the front lines of a successful campaign to end this discriminatory practice.

The issues these days are different from when I first joined, but they are just as urgent.