When Barack Obama was elected president he acknowledged that the historic election of a black man was only possible by his “standing on the shoulders” of those who had fought for ending discrimination and racism in previous decades and generations. Among two of the best known of this group in St. Louis were the late Margaret Bush Wilson and activist Norman Seay. She served nine terms as the chairman of the national Board of Directors of the NAACP and was president of the St. Louis chapter. She was a lawyer-activist and assisted her father as he worked on ending housing discrimination. His work led to the famous 1948 Shelley vs. Kraemer Supreme Court decision that put an end to restrictive covenants used against blacks. Norman Seay was active for decades in fighting discrimination. He was jailed for ninety days for his role in 1963 demonstrations against the discriminatory hiring practices of the Jefferson Bank in St. Louis. In the days following President Obama’s election, they reflected on the history of the event, and of events which preceded it in which they were involved.
Contributors: Margaret Bush Wilson and Norman Seay