In a talk at Brown, ACLU leader urges student activists to keep fighting for equality

"This is the time to be a protagonist and not a spectator," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a talk on College Hill.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, assured an audience of Brown University students and community members that even in today’s divided landscape, there are still battles “worth fighting.”

“It's hard not to be incredibly upset and disturbed when you wake up in the morning and see ...such rage and resentment and racism,” Romero said. “But when you have those moments, you've got to remind yourselves that we don't live in Donald Trump's America, we live in our America, guided by core values most good hearted people will resonate with.”

In a talk and Q&A with University Provost Richard Locke, Romero touted some of the ACLU’s recent accomplishments, from helping DREAMers hold onto their work authorizations to pursuing criminal justice reform at the local and federal levels. Key to the organization’s success, he said, is its mix of “defensive” moves, such as filing lawsuits and fighting to retain rights, and “offensive” efforts, such as driving younger, more diverse voters to the polls.

Romero’s visit was part of Reaffirming University Values, a series of events spearheaded by the Office of the Provost. The series, now in its third year, hosts scholars and leaders who engage with the Brown community in thoughtful, informed discussion about society’s most pressing issues. Previous events have touched on the opioid crisis, free speech on campus and political division in the United States.