Timothy Brown Pens Article for MBA on Commonwealth’s Anti-Discrimination Laws, Adversity Faced by Sports Legends Bill Russell, "Pumpsie" Green

Boston, Mass. (November 14, 2022) - Boston Associate Timothy Brown recently penned an article for the Massachusetts Bar Association’s (MBA) Young Lawyers Division Section Review. The article, titled, “A Brief History Of Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Law In The Wake Of The Recent Deaths Of Bill Russell And Elijah 'Pumpsie' Green,” discusses how anti-discrimination laws and their enforcement have evolved in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since the late 1800s.

Mr. Brown opens the article by describing the friendship between “renowned basketball legend” Bill Russell and Boston Red Sox player Elijah “Pumpsie” Green – both African American professional athletes who passed away within the last three years. Against this backdrop, Mr. Brown describes the development and enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in Massachusetts as well as the racism that Messrs. Russell and Green faced throughout their lives and careers.

Beginning with a review of the Public Accommodations Act of 1865, Mr. Brown describes how there was no mechanism through which to enforce early anti-discrimination laws, noting that, “early laws provided a win for civil rights in the legislature, but in effect did little more than merely codify law.”  He goes on to discuss the role that the Governor’s Committee for Racial and Religious Understanding – later known as the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination – played in enforcing and investigating violations of the Commonwealth’s anti-discrimination laws and policies.

Next, explaining that, “Although anti-discrimination laws were developing between the 1940s and 1960s, it would take much longer for the social climate in America to change,” Mr. Brown ultimately returns to a discussion of the experiences of Messrs. Russell and Green. In closing, he observes, “even the laws that did attempt to protect them either had limited authority or failed in their practical application. As a result, each suffered terrible experiences of racial abuse and discrimination during their lifetimes without recourse. . . their lives were not only about success and accomplishment but about how they overcame adversity along the way as well.”

Mr. Brown is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Products Liability, Toxic Tort & Environmental Litigation, and OSHA Safety and Health Practices. His prior experience includes several years representing plaintiffs in matters involving serious personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home negligence.

Read the full MBA Young Lawyers Division Section Review article here.

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