The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana was founded in January of 1956, at which time mixed-race meetings were illegal. Founders James Dombrowski of the Southern Conference Educational Fund and Benjamin E. Smith, a New Orleans lawyer, along with Smith's colleague Bruce C. Waltzer, were arrested under indictment for allegedly plotting to overthrow the state government of Louisiana by holding mixed-race meetings and advocating abolition of segregation laws.
Today, the ACLU of Louisiana continues to fight for First Amendment rights, equal protection under the law, the right of due process for all citizens, and privacy rights. It focuses on protecting freedom of speech and expression and freedom of religion, and on expanding criminal justice reform, prison reform, and LGBT rights.
Together Baton Rouge is a coalition of Baton Rouge institutions working to build community relationships, equip community members and leaders with the skills and practices that will enable them to address and solve problems, and to achieve definitive change on concrete issues as part of a collective call to justice. They have achieved such goals as a dedicated revenue stream for the CATS transportation service; legislation to bring about Medicaid expansion; an increase in the state cigarette tax to provide healthcare funding; and the formation of a statewide campaign to fund the Healthy Food Retail Act to bring grocery stores to Louisiana's food deserts, in addition to many others. Their members include churches and professional organizations from every part of Baton Rouge, and supporters are companies and major organizations from across the nation.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909, making it the oldest civil rights organization in the country. The Baton Rouge chapter participates in community-based organizing on local and national issues in alignment with the NAACP's objectives "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens; to achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes; to seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights; to inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination; to educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise tehreof, and to take any other lawful action in furtherance of these objectives" (taken from the NAACPBR website). Meetings are held on the fourth Monday of every month at the McKinley Alumni Center, located at 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Drive. The organization is also accessible through Facebook.