Colorado ACLU director comes to Carbondale

Ryan Summerlin
Nathan Woodliff-Stanley
Picasa |

The Colorado American Civil Liberties Union’s executive director is making a special trip to speak at the Carbondale Branch Library on Saturday.

The Mount Sopris Historical Society, the library and Carbondale businessman and philanthropist Jim Calaway have partnered up to bring Nathan Woodliff-Stanley to speak on civil liberties battles being fought today in the nation and locally.

Calaway, a longtime and influential member of the ACLU who was instrumental in getting Woodliff-Stanley to speak, will moderate the event.

Calaway said he’s been active with the ACLU for 50 years. In the 1960s, he founded the first chapter of the ACLU in Texas, and he has served as the national organization’s treasurer.

“I’m sure (Woodliff-Stanley will) cover a range of important subjects, some as long-standing as Guantanamo Bay, right up to the rules coming out of the White House today on immigration, which the ACLU is very involved in,” said Calaway.

An ordained Unitarian Universalist minister educated at Yale Divinity School with a history in social work, Woodliff-Stanley started as the Colorado ACLU executive director in 2012.

The uncertainty of the country’s political situation makes this the perfect time to hear from someone like Woodliff-Stanley, said Calaway.

“And the Colorado chapter is also very active, one of the best affiliates we have,” covering a range of issues that the ACLU is active in, including civil rights for immigrants, women, prisoners and the LGBTQ community, he said.

Beth White, executive director of the historical society, said, “I feel like most local history is derivative of national history. So these issues with regard to civil rights are also playing out locally.”

A big part of the historical society’s mission is education and community outreach, “so this opportunity is very resonant with who we are and what we do,” she said.

White said this event fits right alongside the first of the Post Independent’s Common Ground forums held last week, and she hopes this event Saturday will continue the important public dialogue.

“Our civil liberties are our common ground,” she said. “Perhaps this is the beginning of a larger series of dialogues that we can have locally about the importance of protecting our civil liberties on behalf of a healthy, viable democracy.”

Woodliff-Stanley will speak at the Calaway Community Room from 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday at an event that is free and open to the public. He is expected to speak, then field questions from the community.

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