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.
“Tom devoted much of his life and career to protecting the constitutionally guaranteed rights of others, and he left an enduring legacy for all of us.” -Thomas L. Hogan Memorial Foundation
Tom Hogan was an ACLU of Kentucky cooperating attorney, became President of the Board of Directors, and was always available to take ACLU cases, especially those involving race, equal protection and the First Amendment.
The Louisville attorney filed the lawsuit that eventually led to desegregation efforts in Jefferson County schools. On August 29, 1971, Hogan filed suit in U.S. District Court and nearly four years later Judge James F. Gordon issued a desegregation order that prompted rioting, demonstrations, and the burning of school buses. Because of his active role in the case, Hogan was threatened by anti-busing advocates.
Hogan’s commitment to civil rights may best have been illustrated by his decision to represent an anti-busing group that was unable to get a permit for a demonstration on Derby Day. When asked why he accepted the case, he simply said, “because I thought they were right. White people have constitutional rights too.”
There were several non-busing related cases Hogan took on that drew headlines including his successful representation of a black man who was denied entry to a country club because of his race. He also got a favorable ruling for a Berea man who was fired for refusing to work on Saturday because of his religion.
Hogan died in 1984 at the age of 40 after a yearlong fight with cancer. After his death, the ACLU of Kentucky and a large circle of Tom’s friends helped form the Thomas L. Hogan Memorial Foundation which established an award in his honor. The award is presented by the ACLU of Kentucky to individuals or groups making significant contributions to civil liberties.