Media Contact

Sam Petto, Communications Director

October 30, 2023

LINCOLN, Neb. – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska Board of Directors has named the 2023 recipients of its annual awards, including a longtime Lincoln civil rights leader, a Lexington community advocate and three partner organizations.

This year, I Be Black Girl, the University of Nebraska College of Law’s Muslim Law Students’ Association, and the Nebraska Indian Education Association are being recognized with the Roger Baldwin Civil Libertarian of the Year Award, which goes to partners who have worked with the ACLU of Nebraska to advance and protect civil liberties. The three Nebraska organizations joined the ACLU of Nebraska and #FreeTheHair in co-authoring a report on school dress code and grooming policies — building support for legislative action to protect students’ natural hair, protective hairstyles, tribal regalia and headdresses.

Gladys Godinez is this year’s winner of the 2023 Defender of the Bill of Rights Award, which honors an individual or organization that has worked independently of the ACLU of Nebraska to advance civil liberties, equality and justice. Godinez is co-director of United by Culture Media, a Lexington-based nonprofit organization that focuses on the importance of maintaining cultural identity in rural communities. This year, the organization held its fifth cultural festival in Lexington, drawing hundreds of residents together to celebrate the diversity of cultures represented in the community.

The Robert M. Spire Founders Service Award, which serves as the ACLU of Nebraska’s lifetime achievement award, is going to longtime NAACP Lincoln Branch leader Jareldine Mays. Mays has been active with the branch for more than 20 years and served as its president from 2012 - 2014. Throughout her time with the organization, she has been a steadfast advocate for equality and justice in Lincoln and across the state. The NAACP Lincoln Branch has been a frequent partner to the ACLU of Nebraska in shared efforts to protect voting rights, address disparities in the criminal legal system and ensure equal opportunities in education.

Mindy Rush Chipman, ACLU of Nebraska executive director, made this statement on this year’s honorees:

“We are so grateful for these exceptional community members and organizations, and we thank them for their work making Nebraska freer, fairer and more welcoming for all,” Rush Chipman said. “Each honoree’s work has made a significant difference in Nebraskans’ lives, particularly Nebraskans of color, immigrants and other often marginalized communities. Their collective efforts remind us of the change that is possible when we work together to advance the causes of liberty and justice. We extend our warmest congratulations and our heartfelt gratitude to these remarkable honorees.”

The awardees will be celebrated at a private reception later this week. A list of past award recipients is available on the ACLU of Nebraska’s website.