School children enjoying the new Brickline Greenway sculpture by Damon Davis, which reflects black neighborhood Mill Creek Valley, that sat here decades before, at the new St. Louis City S.C. stadium.(The Newsletter 05/Editor)

Featured Image: Explore St. Louis


Saint Louis, Missouri is a city with a rich African American history. From the early days of settlement to the present, African Americans have made significant contributions to the city. This blog will provide a comprehensive timeline of African American life in Saint Louis, Missouri. 

Pre-Civil War Life: Saint Louis was founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau. The city was built on the banks of the Mississippi River and quickly became a hub for trade and transportation. African Americans were brought to the city as slaves to work in the growing number of businesses and households. 

Antebellum Saint Louis: In the years leading up to the Civil War, Saint Louis was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. African Americans escaping slavery would often find refuge in the city. Saint Louis was also home to a number of free African Americans who worked as barbers, blacksmiths, and carpenters. 

The Civil War Era: Saint Louis was a Union city during the Civil War. African American men served in the Union army, and many women worked in the city as nurses, cooks, and laundresses. African Americans in Saint Louis also began to form their own social and political organizations to better advocate for their rights. 

Post-Civil War Saint Louis

After the Civil War, African Americans began to gain more rights and opportunities in St. Louis. African American homesteaders began settling in the city and forming their own businesses. They also became increasingly involved in local politics and civil rights issues. 

The Turn of the Century

At the turn of the 20th century, African Americans in Saint Louis faced discrimination and segregation in housing, employment, and education. Despite these obstacles, African Americans began to thrive in the city. They founded churches, schools, and organizations to strengthen the African American community. 

The Great Migration

The early 20th century saw a large influx of African Americans from the southern states to the urban north. This period, known as the Great Migration, had a major impact on Saint Louis. The city now had thousands of new African American residents, many of whom became involved in the labor movement and the civil rights struggle. 

The Civil Rights Era

In the 1960s, the civil rights movement began to gain momentum in Saint Louis. African American activists organized protests, marches, and sit-ins to demand equal rights for all citizens. They also established organizations to provide legal services for African Americans and promote voter registration. 

The Freedom Suits Memorial is a 14-foot-tall bronze sculpture in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Hundreds of people attended the ceremony. It commemorates the freedom suits which were lawsuits filed by slaves against slaveholders to assert claims to freedom. (Roger Hunt)

Contemporary Saint Louis

Today, Saint Louis is a vibrant and diverse city. African Americans continue to make an impact in many aspects of life, from business and economics to politics and culture. Saint Louis is a thriving African American community with much to offer. 

Conclusion: Saint Louis has long been an important center for the African American experience. From the early days of slavery to the modern civil rights movement, African Americans have made countless contributions to the city. This blog has provided a comprehensive timeline of African American life in Saint Louis, Missouri.

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