The ACLU of Minnesota presented its top accolade, the Earl Larson Award, to former executive director Charles Samuelson on Nov. 30, 2017.
Samuelson led the organization for 20 years until his retirement last February. Among his initiatives was the Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Program, originally in Bemidji but now in Mankato, addressing immigrants’ rights. He oversaw many legislative and judicial initiatives, including overturning the state’s sodomy law, ensuring equal rights for LGBTQ students and gaining better protection of student privacy rights.
In the past year it has become apparent that in some situations it is critical to use litigation to protect civil liberties. Therefore, the ACLU of Minnesota has established the Charles Samuelson Constitutional Crisis Legal Fund, now amounting to $300,000, to respond quickly and strategically to actions that undermine the state and federal constitutions. They intend to use it, and quickly—the intent is to spend it by the end of 2021.
Some people might say, like Samuelson, “It’s a beautiful thing.”