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ACLU Brings Freedom Message to College Campuses

ACLU Brings Freedom Message to College Campuses


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is bringing its message to college campuses this fall with its 2003 College Freedom Tour, the organization’s first national effort to reach college-age youth.

Last month, the tour landed at the University of Maryland-College Park, drawing more than 750 students to discuss issues of privacy and profiling, both of which have become more pressing in a post-Sept. 11 environment.

“We wanted to educate students about some of the issues that affect them that they might not be aware of on the college campus,” says Meredith Curtis, with the ACLU of Maryland. The tour was planned as a way of organizing students around the issues, said Curtis, adding that a lot of the students who attended the College Park event were already aware of privacy and profiling issues particular to their campus, such as the use of social security numbers as student I.D. numbers.

The festivities began with a political forum led by humorist Bob Somerby. Student presidents of ACLU chapters at the University of Maryland and nearby Johns Hopkins University talked about the activist work they were doing in order to give attendees examples of how they can get involved. After the forum, nationally known hip-hop group, dead prez, performed for the students.

The College Freedom Tour is part of the ACLU’s new Youth Communications Initiative, established earlier this year to mobilize youth to promote and protect civil liberties and civil rights. The University of Maryland was the second stop on the tour, which began Sept. 8 at the University of Miami. Other stops include Hunter College and New School University in New York City; Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.; University of Massachusetts at Amherst; University of Wisconsin in Madison; and University of Washington in Seattle.

Each stop of the national tour will combine free live concerts with political forums that focus on issues of local concern as well as the ACLU’s national programs in support of racial justice, privacy rights and its “Keep America Safe and Free” campaign in response to government crackdowns on freedom in the wake of Sept. 11.

In addition to Somerby and dead prez, national tour participants include publisher and civil liberties activist Larry Flynt, comedians Dave Chappelle and Andy Dick and nationally known performers including DJ Revolution, Mystic and DJ Kuttin Kandi.

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