Meet some “extraordinary black Missourians,” from fur traders to pitchers to opera singers | Books


“I think we’re back to where we’re going to talk about the story and what happened.”

However, he remembers some biases he learned, such as that anyone who went to the western borders was white. “We got left out of a lot of things,” he says.

“Life would have been very different for me if I had known about black cowboys.”

Now, he says, “it is good for all children to have a good look at history.”

Frankie Muse Freeman speaks at the inauguration of a statue in her honor on November 21, 2017 in Kiener Plaza. The statue shows Freeman exiting the courthouse after winning a groundbreaking NAACP lawsuit that ended legal racial discrimination in public housing. With her are Adolphus M. Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP Chapter, and daughter Shelbe Freeman Bullock.

Photo by Laurie Skrivan, Post Dispatch

The pioneers he includes in “Extraordinary Black Missourians” are possibly some of the least known but interesting entries. Occasionally, entries from the 18th or 19th centuries are challenging, with dates of birth, even names, being uncertain. (And an entry for Charles E. Anderson, a pioneering meteorologist, sometimes seems to confuse him with Charles A. Anderson, a war pilot.)

The people Wright selected didn’t have to be born or raised in Missouri, although some were. Others have moved here to study or to work. Some went and became internationally known singers (Tina Turner, Josephine Baker, Grace Bumbry) or writers (Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes). Others worked in Missouri, where they made a name for themselves (Cornell Ira Haynes Jr., aka Nelly; Chuck Berry; Lou Brock), legislated (William Lacy Clay, Leon Jordan), fought for civil rights (Frankie Freeman, Theodore D. McNeal ) or taught school (Charles Henry Turner).


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