May 3, 2011 (Newswire.com) - SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - The ACLU of Utah is in the final stages of preparing for its 2011 Bill of Rights Celebration. This year's celebration will feature keynote speaker, Darryl Hunt, founder of the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice. Also at the Celebration, Stephen P. Smoot and Kent Hart, as well as the winners of the ACLU of Utah Youth Activist Scholarships, will be recognized with awards. .
Keynote speaker Darryl Hunt spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and he now dedicates his time to helping others in similar straits. His compelling story was the basis of a documentary, "The Trials of Darryl Hunt," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006.
Upon his release seven years ago, Hunt decided to spend his life being a voice for the voiceless. The Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice advocates for changes in the criminal justice system and provides support and resources to formerly-incarcerated individuals who are trying to rebuild their lives.
The recipient of this year's Torch of Freedom Lifetime Achievement Award, Stephen P. Smoot is one of the founding members of the ACLU of Utah in 1958. At the time he and his peers sought the ACLU of Utah charter from the national ACLU, Smoot was greatly concerned with persistent racial inequity and the lack of quality indigent defense in Utah. Today, he continues to work for balance, compassion, and equality through his community and church engagements.
As the current executive director of the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Kent Hart has been an indispensable partner in several key ACLU of Utah Projects. Hart has been a strong advocate for the ACLU of Utah's push for indigent defense reform in our state, and has also supported the organization's challenge to the Ogden "gang injunction." He is this year's recipient of the Adam "Mickey" Duncan award for legal advocacy in defense of civil liberties.
The Bill of Rights Celebration will also provide an opportunity to recognize the three recipients of the ACLU of Utah's 2010-2011 Youth Activist Scholarship awards. Three $1,000 scholarships are awarded each year to high school seniors who:
• Are committed to the protection of civil liberties,
• Strive for academic excellence,
• Display leadership in their schools and communities, and
• Overcome personal challenges.
"This Celebration is important not just as a way to raise funds for the ACLU of Utah's legal advocacy and education work throughout they year," said Anna Brower, Director of Development for the ACLU of Utah. "It is a time for ACLU members, supports and community partners to come together to celebrate victories and raise our collective spirit for the months of important work ahead! We hope long-time members and new supporters alike will join us to hear Mr. Hunt's inspiring message and honor the work of our community's civil liberties champions."