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Margaret Bush Wilson (1919 - 2009)

Margaret Bush Wilson was a St. Louis lawyer and civil rights
Civil Rights refers to rights that all individuals in a society are guaranteed by their government in order to protect them from unfair treatment. In the United States, a citizen's civil rights are outlined in the first ten amendments of the Constitution, which are called the Bill of Rights.
activist. She was born in St. Louis in 1919 to James T. and Margaret Casey Bush. Both of her parents were active in the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Formed in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an African American civil rights organization whose mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination."
. After graduating from Lincoln University
Lincoln University is a traditionally black school located in Jefferson City, Missouri. It began as Lincoln Institute in 1866 and was conceived and supported by the black soldiers who served with the 62nd and 65th Regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops Infantry. In 1921 Lincoln Institute became Lincoln University, and in 1954 Lincoln opened its doors to students of all races.
Law School in 1943, Margaret Bush became the second woman of color to practice law in Missouri. She soon became an attorney for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Electrification Administration.

In 1944, Margaret Bush married Robert Wilson, a classmate from law school. A few years later, they set up their own practice in St. Louis, where she specialized in real estate law. Wilson was instrumental in the 1948 Supreme Court ruling that ended restrictive housing covenants. The housing covenants kept blacks, Jews, and others from buying homes in certain places.

Wilson became president of the Missouri NAACP in 1962. Starting in 1975, she served nine terms as chair of the national NAACP. She was the first woman to hold this post. An inspiring leader, Wilson once said, "If you’ve got character, you’ve got competence, you’ve got accomplishment, these are the only things that make you somebody in this country. It’s got nothing to do with where you came from or who your parents were."

Wilson died at the age of 90 on August 11, 2009.

Text and research by Carlynn Trout and Elizabeth Engel


References and Resources

For more information about Margaret Bush Wilson's life and career, see the following resources:

Society Resources

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Historic Missourians: Margaret Bush Wilson
Margaret Bush WilsonMargaret Bush Wilson, (1919-2009).

[Photograph by Wiley Price, The State Historical Society of Missouri, Manuscript Collection- St. Louis ]

Margaret Bush Wilson

Born: January 30, 1919
Died: August 11, 2009 (age 90)
Categories: Leaders & Activists, African Americans, Women
Region of Missouri: St. Louis
Missouri Hometown: St. Louis