The JP UP Date: Black History Month: Honorable Frankie Muse Freeman

Andrew BarnesThe JP UP date

Number 262                      February 23, 2024                            St. Louis

February is Black History Month

Courtesy of Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture #BlackHistoryMonth

Black History Month celebrates the rich heritage, resilience, and contributions of Black people throughout history. It emphasizes education, awareness, and celebration of Black culture and achievements, honoring trailblazers and icons who have made significant impacts in various fields. Rooted in the struggles against racial oppression and injustice, Black History Month reflects on the history and cultural legacy of the Black community, inspiring empowerment, unity, and advocacy for racial equity and social justice. It encompasses diverse experiences, traditions, and voices, highlighting the importance of recognizing and amplifying the contributions of Black individuals and communities to global culture and progress.

The influences of movements like Black Power and Black Lives Matter have further shaped the cultural landscape, inspiring activism, solidarity, and cultural expression within Black communities and beyond. These movements have raised awareness about systemic racism, police brutality, and the ongoing struggle for racial justice, emphasizing the importance of empowerment, resistance, and centering Black voices and experiences in discussions about social change. Famous figures of Black History Month, ranging from civil rights leaders to artists and athletes, have left a lasting impact on society, inspiring generations with their achievements, resilience, and advocacy for equality and justice, contributing to the ongoing legacy of Black excellence and empowerment.

Each week, we’ll highlight a narrative showcasing a local hero or notable figure who has made significant contributions to the advancement of African Americans.

This week, our final update of Black History Month, we take a look at the Honorable Frankie Muse Freeman. 

A true trailblazer, the Honorable Frankie Muse Freeman serves as an inspiring figure in black history as we approach the end of the month. Despite facing closed doors, she persisted in pursuing her dreams of practicing law. Freeman, a graduate of Hampton University and the Howard University Law School in 1947, encountered silence after reaching out to various law firms in 1948. Undeterred, she took matters into her own hands and established her own private practice. Initially focusing on pro bono work, divorce, and criminal cases, Freeman shifted her attention to civil rights after two years. In 1949, she joined the NAACP legal team, playing a pivotal role as legal counsel in the lawsuit against the St. Louis Board of Education.

From 1956 to 1970, Freeman worked as a staff attorney at the St. Louis Land Clearance and Housing Authorities. She started as an associate general counsel and eventually became the general counsel of the St. Louis Housing Authority. Then, in March 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson picked her as the first woman Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She got reappointed by Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter, sticking with the role until 1979. During Carter’s time, in 1979, Freeman took on the job of Inspector General of the Community Services Administration. But when Ronald Reagan, a Republican, became president in 1980, he asked all Democratic inspector generals appointed by previous presidents to step down.

In 1982, Freeman teamed up with 15 other former top federal officials to create the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan crew dedicated to stamping out racial discrimination and finding solutions to tackle its negative impacts. With her wealth of experience in housing, civil and probate law, as well as civil rights, Freeman has represented a wide range of clients, including individuals, corporations, non-profit groups, and municipal agencies, in both state and federal courts.To read the full story, go to the article Women Trailblazers Project

Photo by Laurie Skrivan



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