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Missouri State Archives
Timeline of Missouri's African American History

1950 Judge Sam Blair of the Cole County Circuit Court ordered the University of Missouri to enroll African American students (June 27).
1954 The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, stating that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" (May 17).
1954 In response to a State Commission of Education query, Missouri's Attorney General stated that the state's school segregation laws were null and void (June).
1956 Governor Phil M. Donnelly appointed Theodore McMillen the first African American judge in Missouri. He moved from the circuit court to the Missouri Court of Appeals in 1972, and to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1978.
1957 The Missouri legislature created the Missouri Human Rights Commission, which effectively documented the reality of racial discrimination in Missouri (June 8).
1960 Theodore McNeal, St. Louis, was elected Missouri's first African American state senator.
1961 The St. Louis school board decided to bus pupils in an attempt to achieve racial integration. Over 4500 students participated during the 1961-1962 school year.
1962  DeVerne Calloway was elected the first African American woman representative in Missouri's state legislature.


Rep. DeVerne Calloway

1963  The St. Louis chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) publicly boycotted Jefferson Bank, protesting the bank's discriminatory hiring practices (August; ended March 1964).
1964  President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the federal Public Accommodations Act, prohibiting discrimination in public facilities (July 2). A local judge in Kansas City temporarily restrained its implementation in the city.
1964  ACTION members Percy Green and Richard Daly climbed the Gateway Arch, then under construction, to protest the exclusion of skilled black workers from the federally-funded worksite: Green chained himself one hundred feet above the ground for four hours until police removed him (July 14).
1965  The U.S. Congress passed the federal Voting Rights Act (August).
1965  The Missouri legislature passed the Missouri Public Accommodations Act of 1965, ending discrimination in public facilities.
1965  David E. McPherson became the first African American trooper on the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
1968  Rioting began in Kansas City after local school boards refused to close schools after assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April).
1968  Missouri's first African American United States congressman, William L. Clay, Sr., was elected.
1968  Howard B. Woods founded the St. Louis Sentinel.
1972  Militant civil rights group ACTION unveiled St. Louis' Veiled Prophet.
1973  The Missouri State Penitentiary was integrated.
1977  Gwen B. Giles became the first African American woman state senator.
1978  Paula Woodruff became the Missouri State Highway Patrol's first female African American trooper.
1980  Court-ordered desegregation began in Missouri, attempting to alleviate the racial isolation of African American students. The court determined that the State of Missouri was required to pay half of the cost of school desegregation plans; numerous legal issues arose (May).
1990  Miss Missouri Debbye Turner became Miss America.
1991  Kansas City elected its first African American mayor, Emmanuel Cleaver II.
1993  St. Louis citizens elected their first African American mayor, Freeman Bosley, Jr.
1995  Ronnie L. White became the state's first African American Missouri Supreme Court justice (October).

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