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Comedians commit to work on voting rights and racial justice

10/30/2013, 4:10 a.m.
Kamau Bell

The American Civil Liberties Union has launched the ACLU Ambassador Project, a new initiative that joins personalities from the worlds of film, television, music and comedy with ACLU priority issues.

The project’s aim is to elevate the profile of ACLU issues and cases by developing meaningful relationships with these creative artists on specific issues so they can use their voice and platforms to educate the public and advocate for change.

Among the Ambassadors are W. Kamau Bell on racial justice and Lewis Black on voting rights.

“I am extremely proud to join with the ACLU and their groundbreaking work to create a more just and less racist society,” said W. Kamau Bell, a socio-political stand-up comedian and host of the FXX series,

'Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell'. “And I am even more proud that that the ACLU recognizes that even though I tell jokes about ending racism, I ain't kidding.”

Lewis Black, a Grammy Award-winning comedian, will further the ACLU’s work on voting rights. Black maintains an active stand-up schedule and regularly appears on The Daily Show in his segment, "Back in Black".

“I have disagreed from time to time with the ACLU but I have been a longtime supporter of them and look working with them to help protect and expand the right to vote,” said Black. “There are new voter suppression laws popping up all over the country. They aren't designed to get more people to vote. They are designed to make sure less people vote. Really? That's not democratic. It’s downright stupid.”

The four remaining Ambassadors are: Harry Belafonte on mass incarceration, 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.

“These talented artists will bring civil liberties issues to audiences that we haven’t reached before,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “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.”

Ambassadors will promote their issues in various ways, from participating in press conferences to using social media to spread timely messaging. They will be updated regularly on their issues and will have the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and participate in legislative hearings and insider ACLU case briefings.