Timeline of Missouri's African American History

Missouri's African-American Historical Timeline 1950 - 1995
1950 Judge Sam Blair of the Cole County Circuit Court ordered the University of Missouri to enroll Black students on June 27, 1950. Gus Ridgel was the first student to be admitted that August and two other students, Elmer Bell and George Horne, were enrolled at the School of Mines and Metallurgy (now Missouri S&T) in Rolla.
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 Gov. Phil M. Donnelly appointed Theodore McMillian as the first Black judge in Missouri on March 16, 1956 to the 22nd Judicial Circuit in St. Louis. He was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals-Eastern District in 1972, and to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1978.
1957 The Missouri Commission on Human Rights was created by the Missouri General Assembly on June 8, 1957. Originally focusing solely on racial discrimination, the Commission now investigates complaints of discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodations related to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and disability.
1960 Theodore McNeal (St. Louis) was elected Missouri's first Black state senator on November 8, 1960.
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 (St. Louis) was elected as the first Black woman state representative in Missouri's General Assembly on November 6, 1962.

Rep. Deverne Lee Calloway
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  After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, what began as a peaceful protests in Kansas City ended in rioting on April 9, 1968 after the local schools refused to close. When the Kansas City Police deployed tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd, rioting erupted in other parts of the city where six people died.
1968 The case Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 17, 1968, held that Congress could regulate the “badges and incidents of slavery” under the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Joseph Lee Jones had tried to buy a house in a white neighborhood in St. Louis, but was denied because he was Black. The case reversed many previous private discrimination precedents set by the court.
1968  Missouri's first Black United States congressman, William L. Clay, Sr. (St. Louis), was elected on November 5, 1968.
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 fully integrated on November 30, 1973.
1977  Gwen B. Giles (St. Louis) was the first Black woman elected to serve in the Missouri State Senate after a special election on December 6, 1977.
1978  Paula Woodruff became the Missouri State Highway Patrol's first female African American trooper.
1980  Although St. Louis schools were technically integrated, due to redlining and other discriminatory practices, the school districts were separated by race. To alleviate the racial isolation, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals determined Missouri was to pay for half the cost of desegregation efforts, including the bussing of students beginning on September 3, 1980.
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 Black Supreme Court justice when he was appointed by Gov. Mel Carnahan on October 23, 1995.
1995 Beginning in 1977, lawsuits by the Kansas City School District successfully held the state of Missouri financially liable for the segregation within the boundaries of the district. The school district had wanted a plan to include bussing students within the district, however, a U.S. District Court ruling in 1985 focused on improving educational facilities and programs. On June 12, 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Missouri v. Jenkins overturning the 1985 ruling while still requiring the state of Missouri to correct racial inequality in schools by funding salary increases and remedial education programs. The Court also said, "To hold otherwise would fail to take account of the obligations of local governments, under the Supremacy Clause, to fulfill the requirements that the Constitution imposes upon them."
2014 The Black Lives Matter movement began on social media in 2013 but gained national attention in 2014 after the death of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson. Demonstrations and riots received national press coverage following his death. Ultimately, a grand jury did not indict the officer who shot Brown. The Department of Justice concluded the officer had not violated federal law, but both the Ferguson Police Department and Municipal Court had long engaged in actions that unfairly and detrimentally affected members of the Black community.
2015 University of Missouri students formed the group Concerned Students 1950, an activist group whose goal was to end racial hostility at the institution after racial tensions grew on campus when a white student called the president of the Missouri Student Association a racial slur. The group, named after the year Black students first enrolled at the University, drew national attention with their protests during October and November 2015.
2020 Cori Bush (St. Louis) was elected as the first Black U.S. Congresswoman for the state of Missouri on November 3, 2020.