Please join us for an inspiring remembrance of an important moment in history. This event will feature a panel discussion at 4:00 p.m., followed by a reception at 5:00 p.m. The discussion will celebrate the achievements of the civil rights movement but also consider where we have fallen short in living up to its promises of equality and opportunity to our fellow citizens.
Master of Ceremonies
Julius Hunter began his post-college career as an 8th grade teacher upon graduation from Harris-Stowe Teachers College. He was 21-years-old; some of his students were already 16 and 17-years old. "That,” says Hunter, "is where I first learned that law and order has to precede effective teaching and learning.” After two years in the classroom, the District Superintendent recognized Hunter’s innovative teaching skills and chose Hunter to serve at the district-owned educational radio station as its first African American employee. Hunter got his first taste of broadcasting as a writer, producer, actor and announcer of children’s radio programming. He was later hired as the first African American copywriter at the prestigious, and then third-largest advertising firm in the country, Foote Cone & Belding. He worked with a group that wrote TV commercials. In 1969, Hunter returned to St. Louis to take a job in the Student Affairs Department at Washington University. Not long after, he was named as a reporter, then weekend anchor, then weekend news director at Channel 5, the NBC affiliate in St. Louis. After nearly five years at 5, Hunter was lured away for expanded reporting and anchoring duties at Channel 4, then owned and operated CBS. Hunter officially retired from broadcast news in 2002, but has kept busy as Saint Louis University’s first Vice President for Community Outreach, then on the St. Louis Police Board, and finally as the author of six popular books.
Congressman (retired) William Lacy "Bill” Clay, Sr. excelled in school and took a job working as a janitor at a clothing store at age 13, eventually becoming a tailor there. His political epiphany happened in 1949 when police hauled him to a district police station, attempted to coerce a confession out of him to a brutal crime he did not commit. This experience set him on a path to secure civil rights for those normally defenseless. Clay graduated from Saint Louis University in 1953 with a degree in history and political science in 1953. He then served in the military where he was stationed in Alabama and responded to racial discrimination he and other African Americans faced at the base barbershop that served black soldiers only once a week, among other indignities. He returned to civilian life after discharge to work as a real estate broker and manager of a life insurance company. Clay entered politics and the civil rights movement and was elected to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. He was also a business representative for the city employees union, and later worked for a local steamfitters union. In 1968 Clay won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives outright and served 16 terms before his retirement in 2001. He was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and helped author major legislation to benefit working men and women, and improve civil rights. His so, William L. Clay, Jr. now holds his former seat in Congress.
Norman R. Seay is a veteran civil rights leader and retired administrator of the University of Missouri at St. Louis. He has spent most of his life trying to educate people – blacks and whites – about the importance of integration and equal opportunities for everyone. He served 90 days in jail for his role in the demonstrations at Jefferson Bank & Trust Co., in 1963. That demonstration is widely regarded as the most important event in St. Louis’ civil rights movement. Jefferson Bank had been one of the only banks to serve the African American community and employ African Americans in the segregated areas of St. Louis, but when the bank moved further south, those jobs no longer existed. That initiated the protests. In his teens, Seay participated in discussion groups for young people sponsored by the National Council of Christians and Jews. They met at the University City home of Margaret and Irv Dagen, who were instrumental in the founding of St. Louis’ branch of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Seay soon joined the movement and spearheaded the nonviolent civil rights movement here throughout the 1960s. Seay says more work needs to be done. Comparing it to the sixties, he says, "It’s sneaky. It’s subtle,” not as obvious as it once was, but just as potent.
At age 29 in 1964, Percy Green, II performed one of his first acts of civil disobedience by climbing up 125 feet of one of the legs of the unfinished Gateway Arch with Richard Daly, a fellow demonstrator. The purpose was to draw attention to the fact that no African American workers or contractors had been hired for the Arch construction project. At that time he was an employee of McDonnell Douglas and also the chairman of the employment committee for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). He was a founder of ACTION, as well, who targeted many organizations whose CEOs belonged to the exclusive Veiled Prophet organization that held an annual segregated ball, and had been compared to a Ku Klux Klan-ish event. His involvement in City government sought to assure participation by black-owned companies in government contracts (not those fronted by a minority person and run by a white person), and now five decades later he is still working for equality and black inclusion, as well as other issues of social and economic justice.
Frankie Muse Freeman, when not being recognized for her place in the civil rights movement with recognition of her achievements such as the ABA’s Spirit of Excellence award, the St. Louis Bar Foundation’s Spirit of Justice Award, or the City of St. Louis’ Citizen of the Year award, continues to counsel and encourage others to get to know each other better, to improve race relations, and to put education high on the list of society’s self improvement goals. Freeman is a study in achievement. In 1966, by then a successful civil rights attorney in St. Louis, she was named by President Johnson to the United States Civil Rights Commission. During her career she also served the NAACP as a member and a lawyer. Her book, A Song of Faith and Home, takes the reader on her journey in the segregated south to life in St. Louis as an adult, and what motivated her career in civil rights.
$15 (includes wine & beer reception and hors d'oeuvre)