Obit of the Day: St. Louis Civil Rights Pioneer
Dr. Jerome Williams grew up in segregated St. Louis, but it was not something he wanted for his children. So in the 1960s as the nation focused its attention on problems in the Deep South, Dr. Williams and thousands like him brought change to the Midwest.
It began in 1963 when Dr. Williams led protest marches of hundreds of fellow physicians as well as other black professionals who were tired of the two-tiered social system in Missouri’s largest city.
His efforts came at a cost. Already limited to practice in the two black hospitals in St. Louis where the state allocated less funds per patient than at white hospitals, he was then rejected from membership in the St. Louis Medical Society because of his role in the protests
By the 1970s, Dr. Williams was named the first African American on the board of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the State Healing Arts Board, and was selected as the first black president of the St. Louis Community College Board. In 1979, his daughter was the first black woman selected as a maid of honor in the Veiled Prophet Parade which was formally for whites only.
Dr. Williams, who also co-founded and served as director of the first minority-owned bank in St. Louis, died on March 16, 2013 at the age of 87.
(Image from June 1963 is copyright of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Original caption: Hymn-singing demonstrators march in protest in front of the St. Louis Board of Education offices on Locust Street, June 20 against alleged segregation policies. The marchers are led by three members of a steering committee of Negro organizations that organized the demonstration. From left: The Rev. Arthur Marshall, Jr., chairman, the Rev. Frank M. Reid, Jr. and Dr. Jerome Williams, steering committee co-chairman.)
Also check out Dr. Helen Nash the first African American to work at St. Louis Children’s Hospital