Foley Hoag LLP is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Morgan v. Hennigan, the landmark civil rights decision that ordered Boston Public Schools to desegregate. Foley Hoag was a part of the legal team that successfully represented the plaintiffs in Morgan, pursuing the case on a pro bono basis.

The 1974 federal court decision found that the Boston School Committee intentionally discriminated against Black students, created a racially segregated school system, and forced Black students to attend inferior schools where they received an inferior education.

"Foley Hoag is extremely proud to have been part of the plaintiffs' legal team in Morgan v. Hennigan," said Managing Partner Jim Bucking. "The ideals we advocated in that case have shaped the firm for the past fifty years, and continue to be a hallmark of our culture, pro bono program, and firm mission."

In 1972, the Boston chapter of the NAACP filed a class action lawsuit against the Boston School Committee on behalf of 14 Black parents and 44 children. Tallulah Morgan headed the list of plaintiffs, and James Hennigan, then chair of the School Committee, was the main defendant. The decision in Morgan v. Hennigan came 20 years after the Supreme Court's milestone Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 and laid out in detail the intentional policies and practices that caused Boston's schools to be segregated. The ruling in favor of the plaintiffs set an important precedent for addressing segregation in the North.

The Morgan decision and its impact also led to the creation of the Foley Hoag Foundation. Using attorneys' fees awarded to the firm for winning the case, the partners of Foley Hoag established the Foundation in 1980. Its original mission was to support programs addressing race relations among young people in Boston.

In the years since, the Foundation's reach has grown beyond Boston, and it now encompasses all the U.S. cities where the firm has offices. The Foundation's mission has also broadened to focus on inequity in its various forms, including addressing racial, ethnic, gender, and wealth disparities and promoting social justice, access to societal resources, and recognition of the inherent dignity of all people.

Since 1981, the Foundation has awarded more than $4 million in grants to over 500 organizations. Supported programs include arts and cultural activities; youth education, development, and leadership programs; college and job readiness training; criminal justice reform; and assistance with advocacy and civic engagement.

"The Foundation is an integral part of Foley Hoag. Not only is it a key representation of our shared values, but it is also imbued with the weight and impact of the historical moment from which it was born," said Madeleine Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Foley Hoag Foundation and Co-chair of the firm's education practice. "As members of the firm, we have a responsibility to honor that moment and the ability to use the funds and resources at our disposal to effect change. The Morgan decision is an important part of the country's history, but today, the communities we serve have different needs and require different actions from the Foundation and the firm, and I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation and identifying what the next chapter of our advocacy will look like."

As part of its commemoration of the Morgan decision, Foley Hoag is hosting a series of educational and informational events with the theme of "Morgan v. Hennigan 50 Years Later: A Look Back. A Vision Forward."

In February, the firm will host an event in commemoration of Black History Month, "Legacy of Change: Old Glory and the Evolving American Narrative." Jeffrey Mullan, Foley Hoag partner and Trustee of the Foley Hoag Foundation, will lead an in-depth discussion with Dr. Theodore "Ted" Landsmark and Stanley Forman. Dr. Landsmark, a distinguished educator, lawyer, and civic leader, was the subject of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, "The Soiling of Old Glory." The photograph, taken by Forman, depicted an anti-busing protester stabbing Dr. Landsmark with an American flag flagpole at City Hall Plaza in Boston in 1976. It sparked national outrage and debate over racism, civil rights, and patriotism. In the discussion, Dr. Landsmark and Forman will offer their insights and stories of the moment captured in the photograph and discuss its legacy and relevance today.

Foley Hoag anticipates additional commemorative programming throughout the year.