"When I was in high school in 1942, the last lynching in Missouri took place in Sikeston. Cleo Wright, a black man, was accused of molesting a white woman, and he was lynched by a mob. The U.S. attorney, here in St. Louis, could not get any witnesses to testify against the crowd that lynched him. Mr. Guy Ruffin, who taught me history at Vashon, drove me and a couple other high school students down to Sikeston, to try to find witnesses. And I will never forget the difficulty we had. We drove into the Negro part of town, and a police car followed behind us. They didn't interfere with us, but they followed behind us. Every time we knocked on a door, the shades would be pulled down, and nobody would talk to us. The people were so frightened when they saw the police car behind us that they wouldn't come out and talk to us. And Mr. Ruffin said, If you students will become lawyers, maybe you can fight this and make changes in the law.' And that was one of the things that motivated me to go to law school."Clyde S. Cahill, Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
Lift Every Voice and Sing: St. Louis African Americans in the Twentieth Centuryby Ann Morris
Initially a project to preserve the stories of men and women who lived in the Villea black neighborhood in St. Louis known for its business leaders and educatorsDoris Wesley's work soon took on a larger purpose. Lift Every Voice and Sing pairs Wesley's profiles of one hundred prominent African American citizens with Wiley Price's stunning/i>… See more details below
Initially a project to preserve the stories of men and women who lived in the Villea black neighborhood in St. Louis known for its business leaders and educatorsDoris Wesley's work soon took on a larger purpose. Lift Every Voice and Sing pairs Wesley's profiles of one hundred prominent African American citizens with Wiley Price's stunning photographs of each, offering an intimate look at what it was like to live in a segregated city. Revealing the challenges faced by blacks throughout a tumultuous century, the profiles feature people from various fields, including doctors, educators, musicians, journalists, men and women in business, pastors, and civil rights leaders. They each relate their experiences of racism, the obstacles they overcame in their professions, and the lessons life has taught them.
The book opens with an overview of St. Louis in the twentieth century, providing a historical context for the profiles. A segregated city up through the 1950s, St. Louis became a birthplace of civil rights. A number of organizations in the city fought for equality, including an early chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, which sponsored pickets, boycotts, and sit-ins. The community's African American lawyers sent several important civil rights cases to the U.S. Supreme Court. Citizens also worked together to create an effective political machine that garnered work for blacks despite the segregated job market.
The individuals represented in Lift Every Voice and Sing witnessed firsthand the events that changed the face of their city and the nation. Their accounts, both engaging and insightful, present a unique perspective on the African American community of St. Louis.
- University of Missouri Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 9.00(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Meet the Author
About the Editors and Photographer
Doris A. Wesley is Reference Specialist at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Wiley Price is a prize-winning photojournalist for the St. Louis American.
Ann Morris is Associate Director at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is coauthor of North Webster: A Photographic History of a Black Community.
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