Segments in this Video

The Backdrop (00:49)


A joyful 1918 Armistice Day ends the great world conflict, WWI. Rather than celebrating, Roy Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, organizes the group from his prison cell.

The ACLU's Purpose (01:43)

Today, the powerful ACLU still supports the Bill of Rights. Yearly, they file more suits than the U.S. Justice Department. They protect an individual’s rights over those majority and government rights.

The Early Years (02:03)

In the early 20th Century, U.S. government punishes citizens whose patriotism is in doubt. In 1919 U.S. Attorney General Palmer rounds up citizens after his residence is bombed.

Hoover and Baldwin (01:32)

The FBI's Hoover collects 200,000 files on pacifists, socialist and communists as they are perceived to be a danger. Roger Baldwin, says the practice violates civil liberties and creates the ACLU.

Standing Up for Individual Rights (03:22)

Baldwin, a wealthy Harvard graduate, is imprisoned for draft evasion. He meets Emma Goldman a political activist, and stands up for common workers. He is staunchly anti-government.

The 1925 Tennessee Scopes Trial (05:34)

The ACLU and Clarence Darrow defend Scopes' right to teach evolution. The conflict pits modern scientific America against the fundamentalist "Bible Belt." The ACLU loses but gains prominence.

Defending the Bill of Rights (02:53)

The ACLU protects free of speech and assembly for racist newspapers and even the KKK. Baldwin's arrest for, constitutionally protected, picketing is overturned by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Not Defending Communists (04:54)

The ACLU becomes anti-communist in 1939. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a board member, is removed because she is a communist. Civil libertarianism and socialism are incompatible.

The ACLU's 1940's History (03:39)

Opposed to Japanese internment the ACLU confronts wartime military authority. After WWII the ACLU refuses to openly defend suspected communists subpoenaed by Joe McCarthy's HUAC.

The ACLU 1950-1965 (02:59)

Baldwin, retired, still wields his authority during the Civil Rights era. Chuck Morgan defends Julian Bonds right to his seat in the Georgia State legislature even though he opposes Viet Nam.

Dr.Howard Levy Case- A Win or Loss? (04:50)

Levy, drafted into the military, is court-martialed for anti-war comments. The ACLU's Morgan defends Levy's right to free speech challenging whether the military is exempt. The ACLU loses.

The Unpopular Nazi Party Case (06:57)

The, Skokie IL, Nazi Party's right to assemble is successfully argued by Mr. Goldberger, an ACLU attorney. Should government have the right to permit or prohibit first amendment freedoms?

The ACLU Defends the Constitution (03:28)

In the 1988 presidential campaign, George Bush criticizes Dukakis for his ACLU membership. The ACLU successfully defends Oliver North because his Fifth Amendment rights are violated.

The ACLU's Contradictions (06:04)

The ACLU represents both sides of contentious rights issues. They represent women, gays, prisoners, abortion activists and the rights of both criminals and victims.

Purveyors of Constitutional Principal (03:44)

In 1982, the ACLU argues successfully against Arkansas's Creation Law and they are vindicated from their earlier loss with Scopes. Courts balance the individual rights against the governments'.

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The American Civil Liberties Union: A History

DVD Price: $149.95
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For 80 years, one legal organization has supported the rights of the individual against the majority and the government, igniting rage in conservatives and liberals alike. That organization is the ACLU, and it has virtually molded our national ideal of liberty. Its history reads like a case study of freedom of expression and minority rights in the 20th century. This program, with commentary from Oliver North, Dave Barry, and Molly Ivins, traces the tumultuous history of that organization from its inception by founder Roger Baldwin, through dozens of legal challenges over the past century, including the Scopes trial, the 1930s labor strikes, Japanese internment, the HUAC hearings and blacklisting, the Vietnam war crimes trials, the American Nazi Party’s bid to march in Skokie, Illinois, and others. Baldwin’s story is interwoven throughout. (57 minutes)

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL7613

ISBN: 978-0-7365-7912-4

Copyright date: ©1997

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Booklist 1999 Editors’ Choice

Gold Apple, National Educational Media Network

"An outstanding selection for school, public, and academic libraries. Highly recommended."—Video Librarian

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Only available in USA and Canada.