The American Civil Liberties Union has launched an ambassador project, an initiative that involves recruiting celebrities to help promote issues and progressive causes.
With the project’s unveiling, the ACLU named six ambassadors and their causes: Harry Belafonte on mass incarceration, W. Kamau Bell on racial justice, Lewis Black on voting rights, Melissa Etheridge on marijuana law reform, Jesse Tyler Ferguson on LGBT issues, including the freedom to marry. And Cyndi Lauper on LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS.
Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, said, “These talented artists will bring civil liberties issues to audiences that we haven’t reached before. The voices of these new ambassadors — whether online, on TV, in film or in concerts or comedy clubs across the country — will create a powerful echo chamber that will amplify the ACLU’s work of protecting freedoms for all.”
The public can expect to hear from the ambassadors at press conferences, on Twitter and Facebook, and at legislative hearings and case briefings.
All of the ambassadors already have been working to further the ACLU's missions.
For example, Ferguson, of ABC’s “Modern Family,” and husband Justin Mikita recently traveled to Ferguson’s home state of New Mexico to rally for marriage equality. And the couple’s nonprofit Tie the Knot has awarded the ACLU of New Mexico $10,000 for the freedom to marry effort in the state.
Etheridge, a breast cancer survivor and longtime advocate of expanded access to medial marijuana, authored an opinion piece earlier this year for CNN.com on the ACLU’s “The War on Marijuana in Black and White,” which examined marijuana-related arrests.
Lauper is the co-founder of the True Colors Fund, which was established to promote equality efforts.
Belafonte is the founder of the Sankofa Justice & Equity Fund, a nonprofit social justice organization that encourages artists to contribute their talents to build awareness and confront the issues that negatively impact marginalized communities.
Bell, host of the FXX series “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” is known for his comedic and astute take on politics, race and culture.
Black, a longtime ACLU supporter, keeps an active stand-up schedule and regularly appears on “The Daily Show” in “Back in Black.”