2014 Freedom Award Winner
Suzanne (Suzy) Post was born in Louisville in 1933 to first-generation German Jews.
The Holocaust before and during World War II later focused her attention on the status and segregation of African Americans. She joined the NAACP after graduating from college and participated in every demonstration in Louisville from the open-housing movement of the 1960s to the desegregation of the Jefferson County Public Schools in the 1970s. She was a plaintiff in that lawsuit along with her mentor, Lyman Johnson, an African-American icon. She was the only white plaintiff with children in the public schools when the lawsuit was filed.
In 1968 she was elected President of what is now the ACLU of Kentucky and convened Kentucky’s first statewide Women’s Conference. She worked at the Presbyterian Seminary’s Prophetic Ministry Department in the 70s advising students about welfare rights and tenant rights as they worked in both of those movements.
She became the Women’s Rights Director of the Jefferson County Human Relations Commission and monitored the school system’s compliance with the desegregation order and its compliance with Title IX prohibiting discrimination against any student based upon gender in every school receiving federal money. Her Title IX Monitoring Project resulted in the Office of Civil Rights’ threat to cut off funding unless radical changes were made to the athletic and other programs that were out of compliance at that time.
She was elected to the National Board of the ACLU in 1970 and became its Vice President in 1972. At this time, she worked with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was then a law professor, to make women’s rights the top program priority of the national ACLU.
She also organized programs to demonstrate the status of women in Kentucky jails and prisons and held a conference at the University of Louisville on the subject. She created a handbook on women’s resources in Jefferson County to be given to women released from Kentucky’s jails and prisons and to newcomers to the area.
Post left the Human Relations Commission to serve as Director of the ACLU of Kentucky. She worked there to ensure that the Jefferson County desegregation plan was going according to the judge’s ruling. She also supervised a lawsuit brought by Rev. Louis Coleman, a personal friend and icon, to force the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to name black referees to its rule book. Until that time, no African American coach was listed. She also created the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty at the ACLU, and created its Pro Choice Project, (now the Reproductive Freedom Project) the only one in the state then and now.
Post remained with the ACLU until 1989 when she became Founding Director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, an advocacy organization for providers of affordable housing. One of the first things she did while in that position was to create a Fair Housing Coalition since housing in Jefferson County was still not integrated into neighborhoods. When she resigned in 2006 she had come full circle, starting with involvement in fair housing and ending with the incompletion of that goal even after it became federal law in 1968.
Post, the mother of five children, continues to work on a wide range of community social-justice ventures in the region.
Freedom Award and Post Reception Sponsored by Norton Healthcare