By Diana Poncar, Guest Writer
Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU of Indiana) is a well-known, respected and organized affiliate of the national ACLU, with thousands of card-carrying members who support its mission to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. However, in October of 1953, approximately 70 professionals from the Indianapolis area—respected doctors, lawyers, and university faculty—found themselves, perhaps for the first time, a minority group in their community.
Fourteen dedicated civil libertarians have held the position of executive director at the ACLU of Indiana since John Preston Ward served on a part-time basis as the first executive director in 1957. Records at the Indiana State Library indicate that the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (ICLU) did not have an executive director or staff from 1960 to 1966. The ICLU's operations were run by volunteers, including its President, Dr. Robert L. Risk, a dentist from Indianapolis. Prior to 1957 and the appointment of Ward, Merle H. Miller and Barton Hunter served as Chairmen.
By Fran Quigley, Executive Director 1982-1992
Michael Lee Gradison served as the executive director of the ACLU of Indiana (then called the Indiana Civil Liberties Union) from 1982 to 1992, a time of historic challenges and achievement in the defense of civil liberties in Indiana, and was a member of the Board of Directors beginning in 1967. Thirty years after he assumed the role of executive director, Gradison sat down for an interview with Fran Quigley, himself a former executive director and board member of ACLU of Indiana.
The ACLU of Indiana recognizes individuals and groups who contribute their time, talent and resources to protect civil liberties.