Frederick Douglass said “power concedes nothing without a demand.” Nowhere is that more clear than in the promise of the Bill of Rights.
While the principles of the Bill of Rights animate our work, throughout our history our very government has denied those rights to its own people. And whole swaths of people, whether because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or class, were never intended to receive the protections of the Bill of the Rights.
Yet, we also know that
- because of people who believed in the Bill of Rights, even when the government did not,
- because of people who felt that that the Bill of Rights was not just a bad check, or a vision of what could have been, but wasn’t,
- because of people who knew that Bill of Rights was the cornerstone to building a democratic society and thus struggled to expand our notion of what liberty means,
we enjoy the rights we do today.
Neither courts nor Congress granted us our rights. They were seized from below by grassroots movements. Grassroots movements like the one you are part of.
In the headlines we see a future where people can be detained indefinitely without charge; our military can waterboard (or worse) with impunity; social movements are stifled; our emails surveilled; police are militarized; and counter-terrorism is used as an excuse to quash dissent.
With grassroots partners across the country we are fighting back, and we need your support.
Thank you for helping us stay loud and strong!
Sue Udry, Executive Director
Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Founation