Is St. Louis really ‘#1 in Civil Rights?’ The Missouri History Museum makes a compelling case

By on March 15, 2017

From St. Louis Public Radio:  If you remember the day two St. Louis activists climbed 125 feet up a construction ladder on the unfinished north leg of the Gateway Arch, you remember a key moment of the civil rights movement in St. Louis. Percy Green was one of the people who climbed the Arch on July 14, 1964.

Green’s protest was an attempt to push construction companies working on the Arch to hire more African-American workers and contractors for the project. It is one of many protests and court cases that make St. Louis “#1 in Civil Rights,” according to the Missouri History Museum.

The museum recently opened an exhibit looking back at the fight for racial justice in St. Louis and its national implications.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh looked back on the compelling and complex history of civil rights in St. Louis with Green alongside Gwen Moore, curator of urban landscape and community at the Missouri History Museum.

“[#1 in Civil Rights] is a bold claim but that bold claim came from Judge Nathan B. Young, the founder of the St. Louis American newspaper,” Moore said. “Young was also a keen researcher of local African-American history and he made that claim repeatedly.  In 1964, he said we had more civil rights cases go to the Supreme Court than any other city in the nation, possibly with the exception of New Orleans. We had three separate civil rights cases: The Dred Scott decision, Gaines v. Canada, Shelley v. Kramer.”

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