Here we shine a spotlight on the champions of civil liberties and human rights – the best civil rights charities operating in the United States today. Injustice has been an unwavering nemesis throughout history, but hope permeates every corner where these organizations work tirelessly toward preserving everyone’s unalienable human right to equality and justice.
From confronting racial inequity on behalf of Black people in society to safeguarding constitutional rights for all citizens, these charitable organizations are about more than just advocacy. They are influencing law enforcement practices, challenging discriminatory laws, and supporting victims of human rights violations—and they need your ongoing support.
The best civil rights charities are The Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Equal Justice Initiative, and Lambda Legal.
1. Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)
The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is a renowned non-profit entity, situated in Montgomery, Alabama. This altruistic organization provides pivotal legal support to individuals who might have been unjustly incarcerated or denied fair trial proceedings. EJI emerges as a vanguard, ensuring legal assistance for any individual involved in a death penalty case in Alabama.
With a commitment to reform the criminal justice system besieged by racial inequality and historic discrimination, EJI embraces a comprehensive approach toward providing freedom for wrongfully imprisoned individuals.
In addition to its role as an advocate against wrongful convictions and sentences, EJI has established The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice alongside two cultural sites embracing America’s complex racial history while promoting justice and racial equality.
2. American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU)
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a prominent nonprofit organization, established in 1920, that champions the individual rights and liberties enshrined in the US Constitution. With over 1.8 million members and affiliates across all states, this organization uses litigation and lobbying to safeguard civil liberties.
Significant areas of concentration include opposing the death penalty; advocating for LGBT rights including marriage and adoption; supporting reproductive rights, eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and LGBT individuals; promoting prisoner’s rights while opposing torture; as well as maintaining separation of church and state.
3. Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), based in Montgomery, Alabama, is a well-respected nonprofit organization recognized for its dedication to civil rights advocacy and racial equality. Since its inception in 1971 by attorneys Morris Dees and Joe Levin, the center has consistently endeavored to dismantle discrimination cases throughout America.
With a broad network of committed activists offering financial support from across the country, SPLC successfully runs tolerance programs and performs extensive investigations into potential hate groups. Advancing human rights for all people irrespective of their race or ethnicity remains at the core of their mission.
4. Race Forward
Race Forward is a reputable, non-profit entity with an explicit mission of promoting racial justice. The organization has instigated groundbreaking strategies to support systemic change in policies and institutions, effectively nurturing the condition for racial parity. Notably, Race Forward works on the premise that racism intertwines with other social challenges and this understanding underpins their approach towards fostering justice.
5. NAACP Legal Defense Fund
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), a preeminent civil rights organization and legal firm based in New York City, is dedicated to the fight for racial justice within America and across the world. Although significantly enthused about protecting African American rights domestically, LDF extends its clout to promote equality for Asian Americans, Latinos, and women in the U.S., and human rights advancements globally including regions like South Africa, Canada & Brazil.
The organization operates nationally from its Manhattan office supplemented by regional offices in Washington D.C., employing a robust force of nearly two dozen staff lawyers along with hundreds of cooperating attorneys nationwide.
6. The Human Rights Campaign
Headquartered in Washington D.C., the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest political lobbying organization in America seeking to safeguard and expand rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) individuals. Known for actively advocating same-sex marriage rights, anti-discrimination legislation, and HIV/AIDS advocacy among others, HRC has instigated several legislative initiatives aimed at realizing fundamental fairness and equality.
Furthermore, this esteemed organization also provides supportive resources targeting LGBTQ+ cohorts along with community members who identify differently within society. In passionately aspiring to end discrimination against such groups whilst inspiring societal engagement, HRC envisions a world where every member of the LGBTQ+ community is fully embraced both at home and work as well as throughout all communities nationwide.
7. Lambda Legal
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, or Lambda Legal, is a leading American civil rights organization committed to championing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and those affected by HIV/AIDS. The organization’s primary focus is on impacting litigation, public policy participation, and societal education.
Playing a significant role in landmark legal cases such as Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 which invalidated sodomy laws across the United States; Lambda Legal consistently strives to establish positive legal precedents benefitting LGBT communities and those impacted by HIV.
8. Immigrant Legal Resource Center
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national, non-profit organization focused on advancing immigrant rights. Established in 1979 by Professor Bill Ong Hing, the ILRC aids immigrants to obtain green cards, U.S. citizenship, and protection from deportation through policy advocacy, capacity building, and civic engagement approaches. Providing legal training for immigration attorneys, paralegals and community advocates across the country is also part of their mission.