Four landmark Supreme Court cases originated in St. Louis.
The first Emancipation Proclamation was issued in St. Louis a year before President Lincoln’s proclamation for the entire nation. Local parish schools were integrated by Cardinal Ritter seven years before Brown v. Board of Education. Those are examples of St. Louis’ national prominence when it comes to the history of civil rights in the United States. A brand new year long exhibit #1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis makes a strong case that St. Louis’ civil rights history is under-appreciated and in some cases, untold.
'#1 in Civil Rights' opens to the public March 11 at the Missouri History Museum. KSDK is a sponsor. Days before the exhibit, workmen were polishing, installing electronics, and preparing for the debut of the 6,000 square exhibit. Dr. Gwendolyn Moore is the curator for the civil rights exhibit.
“I’m not nervous at all,” said Moore. “I’m overconfident.”
Moore cites Supreme Court cases like Gaines v. Canada as proof that St. Louis had a national impact on civil rights.
“We have Gaines v. Canada in 1938 when Lloyd Gaines sued the University of Missouri because he was unable to enter the law school because they did not admit blacks,” said Moore.
From the early 1800’s to Ferguson, the year-long exhibit covers 200 years of St. Louis history.
“They’re going to see stories about the freedom suits. They’re going to see stories about the streetcar fight.
They’re going to see stories about the first Emancipation Proclamation that happened here in St. Louis,” said Moore. “We have an important civil right history. We have a civil rights history that had had a national impact and we want people to know that history.”
'#1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis' runs from March 11, 2016 to April 15, 2018. Admission is free at the Missouri History Museum.