Nationally, the weekend of January 18-20, was a time to celebrate the life and remember the death and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Locally it was also an occasion to celebrate the life and contributions of Suzy Post.
On Sunday, Post was awarded the Mayor’s Freedom Award at the Community Arts Celebration, “Keepers of the Dream,” at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. One day later she was one of seven women featured in a play and honored by the African American Theatre Program (AATP) at the University of Louisville for fighting for racial equality. After the play, Georgia Montgomery Davis Powers, Mattie Jones and Gracie Lewis were given AATP’s Service to all Mankind Award. The highlight of the evening was the keynote address given by local journalist Betty Baye.
Suzy Post was born in Louisville to first-generation German Jews. She is a former president of what later became the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky and organized Kentucky’s first Women’s Conference. She has been involved in the Civil Rights movement in Louisville for decades, mainly in the open-housing movement in the 60’s and the fight to desegregate Jefferson County Public Schools in the 70’s.
She was elected to the National Board of the ACLU in 1970 and became vice president in 1972. She still plays an active part in local efforts by participating in various civil rights activities today.
In her acceptance speech she stressed that the fulfilling of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a free America where equality abounds is not complete and never will be as long as economic inequality exists. As she neared the end of her speech, this woman, looking tiny on the big stage at Whitney Hall, said in clear rising tones that she was “one damned angry woman” and everybody there rose to their feet in tribute and were forced by her words to look at themselves and their commitment to the cause of freedom for all.
The next day, at the University of Louisville’s Playhouse, Gracie Lewis, one of the recipients of the AATP’s Service to Mankind Award, echoed Post’s words when she said, “I am going to stay on the battlefield till I die.”
Many times we honor Dr. King for one weekend and with words only. Suzy Post, Gracie Lewis, Georgia Montgomery Davis Powers and Mattie Jones have honored him with their entire hearts and souls. Can we do anything less?