During its general session on Thursday, June 13, Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution, introduced by Councilmember Helen Gym, honoring and recognizing the 50th Anniversary of Philadelphia’s Public Interest Law Center for its “pioneering civil rights litigation, which has advanced the civil, social and economic rights of communities in the Philadelphia region.” The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Cindy Bass, Allan Domb, Derek Green, Bill Greenlee, Helen Gym, Curtis Jones, Blondell Reynolds Brown, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Mark Squilla.
The Law Center was founded in 1969 by Ned Wolf as the Philadelphia affiliate of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, who sought to champion civil rights and take on systemic racism through the courts. Today, the Law Center uses high-impact legal strategies to advance the civil, social and economic rights of communities in the Philadelphia region facing discrimination, inequality and poverty.
“For five decades, the Public Interest Law Center has been an innovative force for justice in the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and beyond,” the resolution reads. “The Law Center focuses on securing the fundamental resources that people use to build their lives—safe housing, quality education, a voice at the ballot box, and more—for communities that face discrimination and exploitation. The Law Center’s policy, advocacy, and legal work has consistently pushed the boundaries of what justice can look like, and its work always follows the lead of communities that are the lifeblood of the Philadelphia region.”
“The Law Center’s policy, advocacy, and legal work has consistently pushed the boundaries of what justice can look like”
The resolution describes a record of significant accomplishments throughout the Law Center’s history. These include, among others: the first successful case establishing that students with intellectual disabilities have a right to receive a public education, the nation’s first local “Right to Know” ordinance for toxic pollutants, and a successful 2018 challenge to partisan gerrymandering of Pennsylvania congressional districts.
“We were deeply honored to be recognized by Philadelphia City Council for 50 years of work challenging discrimination and poverty in our city and beyond,” said Jennifer Clarke, Executive Director of the Public Interest Law Center. “This work is the product of bold and persistent action over the past five decades by hundreds of people: current and former board members, employees, advocates, City Council, and most important, our clients. As we reflect on our history, we look forward to continuing to help Philadelphians stand up for their civil, social and economic rights for decades to come.”