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Missouri State Archives
Timeline of Missouri's African American History

1877  Albert Burgess, probably St. Louis' first African American lawyer, opened his practice.
1883 The United State Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which forbade discrimination in places of public accommodation, unconstitutional; this left the validity of state segregation laws questionable until the Court's 1896 decision of "separate but equal" in Plessy v. Ferguson. Missouri did not pass segregation laws governing public accommodation though custom demanded it.
1884  The St. Louis Palladium, an African American newspaper, was founded.
1887  Walter Moran Farmer became Washington University Law School's first African American student.
1889  The Missouri General Assembly passed legislation ordering separate schools for children "of African descent."
1890  In Lehew v. Brummell, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools are not forbidden or in conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
1892  Prominent black Missourians declared a national day of prayer and fasting in response to nationwide lynching violence; 1500 gathered in St. Louis (May 31).
1896 The United States Supreme Court established the "separate but equal" doctrine in its Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, stating that requiring racial separation in public facilities did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. 
1898  The Black 7th Regiment of the Immunes was mustered in at St. Louis for service in the Spanish-American war (September 16).
1902  James Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri; became one of America's best-known 20th century poets (February 1).
1902  Annie Turnbo Malone established a business in St. Louis, providing beauty products for African American women. She later founded Poro Beauty College.
1904  William "Count" Basie, jazz musician, was born in New Jersey. He moved to Kansas City in the late 1920s where he developed the famous Kansas City style of jazz.
1906  Easter weekend lynchings in Springfield and the threat of more racial violence forced hundreds of African American families to flee the city (April 13).
1906  Josephine Baker, international Jazz Age dancer and singer, was born in St. Louis' Mill Creek Bottom area (June 3).
1906  Satchel Paige, baseball player, was born in Alabama. He later played for the Kansas City Monarchs (July 7).
1907  Nathaniel C. Bruce established the Bartlett Agricultural and Industrial School near Dalton in Chariton County. The school advocated vocational and agricultural training for African American youths.
1908  George L. Vaughn, Joseph E. Mitchell, Charles Turpin, and Homer G. Phillips formed the Citizens Liberty League to promote and endorse African American political candidates.
1910  St. Louis citizens elected Charles Turpin as St. Louis constable, the first African American candidate elected to public office in Missouri.
1910  Dr. J.E. Perry established the Perry Sanitarium and Nurse Training Association in Kansas City, providing needed health services to black citizens.
1912  Joseph E. Mitchell, Sr. founded the St. Louis Argus.
1914  Publication of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," based on melodies he heard walking the streets of St. Louis.
1916  In their first use of a new city charter's initiative petition process, St. Louisians passed a local segregation ordinance (February 29). A federal judge issued a temporary injunction against the segregation law, the first ever in the county enacted by initiative petition. The injunction became permanent after the U.S. Supreme Court declared a similar Louisville, Kentucky, ordinance unconstitutional.
1916  The Missouri legislature established the Missouri Industrial Home for Negro Girls in Tipton.
1917  Clashes between black migrant workers and white factory workers led to a bloody race riot in East St. Louis, Illinois (June 30-July 2). Hundreds of African Americans fled across the Mississippi River, seeking shelter in St. Louis.
1918  The state legislature established the Missouri Negro Industrial Commission to improve the conditions of black Missourians (February 12). The Commission existed until 1928, when the legislation authorizing it expired.
1918  Mound City Bar Association was established in St. Louis after American and local bar associations denied membership to African American attorneys.
1919  Chester A. Franklin founded the Kansas City Call.

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