This is one in a series of profiles marking the 60th anniversary of the ACLU of Kentucky’s founding. Each week through December 2015 we will highlight the story of one member, client, case, board or staff member that has been an integral part of our organization’s rich history.
Mary K. and Eric Tachau
We are all very human no matter our titles, which, I guess, is what civil rights is really all about.” –Eric Tachau, 1995
Mary K. and Eric Tachau were involved in the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union (now ACLU of Kentucky) very early in the organization’s history. Both were deeply involved in the civil rights movement in Kentucky. In 1964, the couple’s major contributions to the movement began when Eric was named treasurer of the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights (AOCR). The organization spearheaded the efforts for the march on Frankfort in support of the Kentucky Public Accommodations law (which was enacted two years later.) The KCLU was among the proud sponsoring organizations of the AOCR.
Mary Katherine Tachau, known as Mary K., served as the president of the ACLU of Kentucky Board during the organization’s historic challenge to Louisville, Jefferson County’s segregated county/city school system. The suit, led by the ACLU, was a joint effort by leading civil rights organizations (including the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, NAACP, and Legal Aid Society). Mary K.’s leadership and expertise as a noted constitutional historian were critical in this effort, one of the few cases where the court ordered cross-district busing.
Mary K. and Eric Tachau’s union was built around their shared commitment to civil rights and social justice. In reflecting on the ACLU of Kentucky’s 40th anniversary Eric wrote, “[…] perhaps my greatest source of joy is that shared commitment with my partner of 43 years and my lifetime lover.” The Tachaus always identified themselves together and supported the other’s activities. As the ACLU of Kentucky celebrates its 60th anniversary, we honor the Tachaus' shared work and sacrifices on behalf of this organization.