Suzanne Kling Post — Suzy Post to her friends — died early Wednesday morning. She was 85.
A former president of what’s now known as the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Post was the lone white plaintiff in “Haycraft v. Louisville Board of Education,” which led to the historic court order to desegregate Jefferson County’s schools in 1975.
In a tribute published by WFPL in 2013, former Louisville Courier Journal editorial page editor (and current Louisville Public Media Board member) Keith Runyon reflected on Post’s life:
“The daughter of Jewish immigrants who came to Louisville from Germany, Suzy, born in 1933, grew up here and then went on to Indiana University, where she joined the student branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She earned a master’s degree in English literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and returned to Kentucky.
“I’ve always suspected that her time in Berkeley, which became synonymous with political liberalism from about 1958 onward, had a big effect on Suzy. But I also think her personality made it impossible for her to be anything but a radical, a term that she is proud of. She should be. Many people have delicately sought to make change in Louisville, and in the nation, but very few have truly achieved the sort of lasting improvement that Suzy Post has.”
Former Courier Journal editor David Hawpe also remembered Post in a conversation with WFPL’s Jean West. (You can listen to that in the player above.)
Hawpe said besides her work desegregating the schools, Post was also active in campaigning for affordable housing in Louisville. And he said her support of free speech even meant she occasionally angered liberals — like when she supported the rights of neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members.
“You know, there was a famous case in Skokie, Ill., which is a heavily Jewish community in which the neo-Nazis decided they were going to march,” Hawpe said. “I can remember talking to Susie about that and she said ‘if the freedom to speak doesn’t mean anything there in that context, it doesn’t mean anything at all.’
“And obviously you know the neo-Nazis in Skokie, Ill. represented the antithesis of her value system. But she felt that the American way is to permit free speech. And so she supported them. And yes, there were people on the left who said, Well, you know, freedom of speech ends at the door when neo nazis leave the door and come into the street and behave provocatively. But Susie was a real champion, even though people on the left often were unhappy with her as well.”