ACLU to honor local law firm, union prez, media at annual dinner

From the ACLU of Michigan:

DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan will host its 2010 Annual Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010 at The Henry Ford Museum, 20900 Oakwood Blvd. in Dearborn featuring special guest Baratunde Thurston, a comedian, author and vigilante pundit who is the web and politics editor at “The Onion.” The evening’s theme is “Building Michigan: The Next Generation for Social Justice.”

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception. Dinner and program follow at 7:15 p.m. There will be a V.I.P. reception at 6 p.m. This year, four honorees will be recognized including UAW President Bob King, the law firm of Bodman LLP, Michigan Voice and journalist Darrell Dawsey.

“Every year, the ACLU of Michigan honors individuals and organizations that have advanced the cause of civil liberties and civil rights in Michigan,” said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “This year, we honor two individuals and two organizations that represent our historical foundation and our future engineers. With the recent mid-term election, we are very likely to face, at both the state and federal levels, serious assaults on fundamental freedoms, including vigorous attempts to roll-back past victories. Our annual dinner is a great opportunity for those who are concerned to come together for inspiration.”

Thurston combines politics, technology and comedy. He co-founded “Jack & Jill Politics” in 2006 and hosts “Popular Science’s Future Of” on the Science Channel. He has contributed articles to Vanity Fair, the U.K. Independent and WNYC. He’s currently writing “How To Be Black,” to be released in 2011 by Harper Collins and has self-published three other books, including “Keep Jerry Falwell Away From My Oreo Cookies.” Thurston often employs satire as an expression of his activism and technology as a medium for that expression.

Since 1959, the ACLU of Michigan has worked to protect and defend civil liberties of Michigan residents in the courts, through legislation and in communities across the state. The Annual Dinner will highlight the ACLU’s work over the year and will focus on the areas of voting rights, workplace discrimination, debtor’s prisons and educational equity.

Eric Jirgens of Eric Charles Designs of Birmingham will serve as the event chair for the third year.

The honorees are:

Bob King, President, United Automobile Workers
The United Automobile Workers (UAW) and other labor unions have played a vital role throughout the ACLU’s rich history, helping to blaze trails on the right to associate and free speech, elimination of the worst forms of child labor, nondiscrimination in employment, and equal pay for equal work. Although King is new to his UAW position, the ACLU of Michigan encourages him to continue the longtime commitment and partnership.

Bodman LLP
The law firm of Bodman LLP has donated more time developing cases and preparing memos on behalf of the ACLU of Michigan than any other Michigan firm in recent history. From religious freedom and free speech to debtors’ prisons and judicial abuse of power, Bodman LLP’s commitment to pro bono representation on behalf of the ACLU is palpable.

Michigan Voice
With its nonpartisan mission to engage underrepresented voters in the democratic process and to establish collective action around a common issue agenda, Michigan Voice brings together close to 100 Michigan-based non-profits. It has facilitated collective work between organizations dedicated to civil rights, environmental, education, labor, and faith-based groups to conduct voter registration drives and voter protection and reform projects. The collaborative also functions as a central communications and media hub, providing polling, modeling and research.

Darrell Dawsey
Darrell Dawsey is an author and local journalist. He has written extensively about civil liberties issues including medical marijuana, educational equity and affirmative action. In 2009, when the ACLU challenged Detroit Public Schools’ mass student searches, Dawsey was a voice of reason defending the ACLU. Currently a freelance writer, Dawsey was a contributor to TIME Magazine’s Assignment Detroit Project and a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Detroit News. His work has appeared in Essence, Vibe, and USA Today and he has penned two books, including the best-selling I Ain’t Scared of You: Bernie Mac On How Life Is, co-written with comic Bernie Mac.

Dinner tickets are $175 for ACLU members; $225 for non-members; $50 for students and those on fixed incomes. Reservations may be made on the web at Premium table packages are available.

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