Priscilla Dowden-White, associate professor of history at UMSL, will discuss civil rights attorney Margaret Bush Wilson on April 11 at the Public Policy Research Center at UMSL.

Civil rights attorney Margaret Bush Wilson (1919-2009) was a complex individual who broke many barriers throughout her life and professional career. She was part of the legal team that fought housing covenants in the 1940s. She went on to work for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, U.S. Department of Agriculture and state of Missouri.

Priscilla Dowden-White, associate professor of history at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, will give a talk titled “Margaret Bush Wilson and the Promise of America” from noon to 1:15 p.m. April 11 in the Public Policy Research Center Conference Room, 427 Social Sciences and Business Building on UMSL’s North Campus. Dowden-White will discuss her research into aspects of Wilson’s ideas on the roles of race, culture, economics and gender in the making of American democracy, as viewed primarily through Wilson’s personal diaries, correspondence and speeches.

Wilson was one of the founding members of the James T. Bush Center at UMSL. The center was established in 1988 to enhance the ability of St. Louis and Missouri to promote and manage social change constructively through policy research and community service activities. It later was consolidated with the Center for Metropolitan Studies and Public Policy Extension/Survey and Applied Research to form the Public Policy Research Center.

Wilson’s work with legal teams fighting 1940s housing covenants led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), which declared race restrictive covenants unconstitutional. She went on to serve a nine-year term as the first woman to head the NAACP board of directors, as attorney for Rural Electrification Administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as assistant attorney general of Missouri.

Dowden-White teaches a variety of courses on African American history, U.S. history since 1865 and the history of St. Louis at UMSL. Her research interests include social welfare and civic activism from African Americans during the interwar period between World War I and World War II. She is the author of “Groping Toward Democracy: African American Social Welfare Reform in St. Louis, 1910-1949,” published by the University of Missouri Press in 2011.

The presentation is free and open to the public. It is the final in a series of applied research presentations hosted by the PPRC and School of Social Work at UMSL. Click here to view past applied research PowerPoint presentations.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz