Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: African American History Initiative :: African American History Timeline

Missouri State Archives
Timeline of Missouri's African American History

1920  Elected as a representative from St. Louis, Walthall Moore became the first African American to serve in the Missouri legislature.

Walthall M. Moore, 1920

1920 Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Charlie "Bird" Parker grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. His interest in nearby jazz clubs led Parker to become a musician and he later created his famous bebop style (August 29).
1921  The Missouri legislature authorized a Negro Inspector of Schools, as well as provisions to establish black high schools in counties with a population of over 100,000.
1922  Comedian Red Foxx (John E. Sanford) was born in St. Louis (December 9).
1924  The Kansas City Monarchs baseball team won the first Negro World Series.
1924  The Bartlett Agricultural and Industrial School was renamed the Dalton Vocational School.
1928  Nathaniel Sweets founded the St. Louis American.
1930  Ivory Perry, St. Louis civil rights activist, was born in Arkansas (May 5).
1934  The Kansas City Urban League's training school for janitors graduated its first class.
1934  President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Dr. William J. Thompkins, Kansas City physician and politician, as Washington D.C.'s Recorder of Deeds.
1935  President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed native St. Louisian Lester A. Walton as minister to Liberia.
1937  The Homer G. Phillips Hospital was completed and named for Phillips, a champion of civil rights for St. Louis' African American citizens (February 22).
1938  The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Lloyd Gaines case. The court struck a blow to Missouri's "separate but equal" laws, stating that in the absence of an equal law school for African American students, Gaines should be admitted to the University of Missouri law school (December 12).
1939  Black and white sharecroppers and tenant farmers in Missouri's bootheel region went on a strike that drew national attention.

Lincoln University Law School, 
courtesy Lincoln University, Page Library

1940  The Gaines decision led to the establishment of the Lincoln University Law School as a way to maintain segregated educational facilities in higher education.
1941  Lincoln University School of Journalism was established, following a challenge to segregated education in State ex rel Bluford v. Canada (July).
1942  The lynching of Cleo Wright in Sikeston initiated a federal investigation by the United States Department of Justice. Although no indictments were made, the investigation set a precedent for federal intervention in civil rights cases (January 12).
1943  The National Park Service dedicated the farm on which George Washington Carver was born as a national monument (July 14).
1945 J.D. and Ethel Shelley challenged restrictive covenants, preventing the sale or lease of property to African Americans. When the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the practice, the United States Supreme Court overruled it in 1948. The practice was outlawed nationwide in 1953.
1945 Oscar S. Ficklin of St. Louis became the first African American in Missouri named as foreman of a court jury.
1948 President Harry S. Truman abolished segregation in the armed forces with Executive Order 9981 (July 26).

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