The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine celebrated its 50th anniversary April 23 at a dinner in which philanthropist Dan Crewe received the Justice Louis Scolnik Award, named for one of the founders of the human rights organization’s local affiliate.

“When we formed this organization, we had 18 members and our budget was $280,” said 95-year-old Louis Scolnik, sitting between his daughters at the 586-person dinner at Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. “We just grew over 50 years.”

Today, 12,000 Mainers are members of the ACLU, a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to defending and preserving the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States. There are 17.1 million members nationwide.

“When people come together to fight for equality and justice, change can happen,” said ACLU Maine Executive Director Alison Beyea. “We can create a world where all people enjoy the full protection of the Constitution. This isn’t about one party or one person, it’s about all of us coming together.”

The 2018 ACLU Maine dinner was an unusually musical one, with a number of tributes to honoree Dan Crewe, who co-founded Gateway Mastering Studio in Portland with Bob Ludwig. He is also president of the Bob Crewe Foundation, named for his late brother who co-wrote a string of Top 10 singles for the Four Seasons in the 1960s, including “Too Good To Be True,” the final line of which was sung as “Too Good To Be Crewe.”

“As a certified member of rock and roll history, I was very involved with what generally I would call the angry youth,” said Dan Crewe, an ACLU board member. “I was very supportive of the issues and became very involved with civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights. And all of these things, of course, take you only to one place, eventually, to the ACLU. We have so often been the ones who have spoken out, taken a stand, and fought back against injustice, especially in relationship to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

“My dad’s ultimate goal is to leave me and my children a better world,” said Reid Crewe, grant director for the Bob Crewe Foundation.

“We have this amazing group of civic activists all across America,” said ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir. “So much of our power is not based in Washington, D.C. … It is based in the people.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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