A September 22, 1964 headline in The St. Louis American proclaimed St. Louis as the “Number One City in Civil Rights.” In the article, Judge Nathan Young argued that St. Louis—more than any other city in the U.S.—was preeminent in the country’s struggle for civil rights based on the number of Supreme Court cases [four] that originated in St. Louis and the city’s long history of protest that led to significant change.
The claim that Saint Louis is the most important city in U.S. civil rights history may seem surprising, but that’s because so much our city’s activist past has been forgotten. America’s civil rights history has too often been dominated by stories about a limited number of places, during a limited time period. Until Ferguson, Saint Louis had been largely left out of civil rights history. #1 in Civil Rights attempts to reclaim the role that Saint Louis had in U.S. civil rights history.
The Missouri History Museum’s, #1 in Civil Rights: The African-American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis examines the local civil rights movement and the city’s role in advancing the cause of racial justice. From activism to high court rulings, Saint Louis has been contesting racial inequities. #1 in Civil Rights uncovers a history that’s compelling and complex, but that all too often has been overlooked in the telling of the larger national narrative. That narrative includes four precedent-setting Supreme Court civil rights cases that originated in Saint Louis—possibly the most to ever reach the High Court from one source. It also includes events and battles that had significant impacts.