Each year since 1976, the ACLU of Louisiana has given an award to honor one of our founders, the civil rights attorney Ben Smith. The Ben Smith Award honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of civil liberties in Louisiana.
Fifty years ago, in October 1963, Ben Smith was arrested under the pretense that he was a Communist—his actual crime was organizing interracial meetings, working to end segregation, and promoting voting rights. Undeterred by state persecution—and later exonerated by the US Supreme Court—Ben Smith tirelessly carried on his work for the rights of all Americans until his death thirteen years later. This award is given in remembrance of that dedication to justice.
The 2014 honoree is LGBT Leader and Rights Advocate Stewart Butler. Mr. Butler has devoted much of his life to equality for all people of New Orleans, and especially the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities in New Orleans and around Louisiana. He began his civil rights work in New Orleans helping with voter registration drives run by James Singleton in the 1970's. In 1980 he was a founding member of LAGPAC, an early advocacy group seeking equal rights for the gay community. Mr. Butler was the only individual to be a part of all three attempts to pass a New Orleans Gay Rights Ordinance in 1984, 1986, and 1991. He has served on the boards of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, LAGPAC, Celebration New Orleans, PFLAG, and many other organizations dedicated to equal rights for all.
Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 6 pm
New Orleans Mariott at the Convention Center
Keynote Speaker: Melissa Flournoy
Director, Planned Parenthood Louisiana
Tickets are $125 per person. Table Sponsorship includes seats for 8 and credit in the program.
Tickets may also be purchased by mail. Please make your check payable to: ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, PO Box 56157, New Orleans LA 70156. Please indicate on your check the number of tickets you wish to reserve. For additional information, please contact email@example.com.