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Daily Black History Facts Today March 19th
1883: Jan Matzeliger invented & maintained a patent for
the first machine to manufacture entire shoes. In recognition
of his accomplishment, he was honored on a postage stamp
on September 15, 1991
1939: Lloyd L. Gaines was reported missing in Chicago, IL.
Three months prior, he won a U. S. Supreme Court decision
(Gaines v. Canada) mandating the State of Missouri admit
him into its university law school or build a separate, and
equal, law school for blacks.
This was one of the most important court cases in theU.S.
civil rights movement in the 1930s. After being denied
admission to the University of Missouri School of Law
because he was African American, and refusing the university’s offer to pay for him
to attend another neighboring state’s law school with no racial restriction, he filed
suit. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled in his favor, holding that the separate
but equal doctrine required that Missouri either admit him or set up a separate law
school for African American students.
The Missouri General Assembly chose the latter option, converting a former
cosmetology school in St. Louis to the Lincoln University School of Law and other
mostly African-American students were admitted to it. The National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which had supported Gaines’
suit, planned to file another suit challenging the adequacy of the new law school.
While he waited for classes to begin, Gaines traveled between St. Louis, Kansas
City and Chicago looking for work, doing odd jobs and giving speeches before
local NAACP chapters. One night in Chicago he left the fraternity house where he
was staying to buy stamps and never returned.
Despite his unknown fate, Gaines has been honored by the University of Missouri
School of Law and the state. The Black Culture Center at the University of Missouri
and a law scholarship at the law school are named for him and another African
American student initially denied admission, and in 2006 he was granted an honorary
law degree. The state bar association followed with a posthumous law license. A
portrait of Gaines hangs in the University of Missouri law school building.
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