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The Honorable William Clay, Sr.

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Information about The Honorable William Clay, Sr.

Profile image of The Honorable William Clay, Sr.

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
U.S. Congressman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Spain, Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
Just permanent interest.

Birthplace

Born:
4/30/1931
Birth Location:
St. Louis, Missouri

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
U.S. Congressman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Spain, Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
Just permanent interest.

Birthplace

Born:
4/30/1931
Birth Location:
St. Louis
See how The Honorable William Clay, Sr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Former Congressman William Lacy Clay, Sr., was born on April 30, 1931, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Luella Hyatt and Irving Clay. Growing up with six siblings in a St. Louis tenement, Clay excelled in school; however, at age thirteen, he went to work, taking a job as a janitor in a clothing store where he would later become the tailor. Clay eventually graduated from St. Louis University in 1953 with his B.S. degree in political science; he served in the United States Army until 1955. Between 1955 and 1959, Clay worked as a real estate broker in St. Louis, and from 1959 to 1961 as a manager of Industrial Life Insurance Company. Clay then became active in the Civil Rights Movement; during his activities as a Civil Rights activist, he served a total of 105 days in jail for taking part in a demonstration in 1963.

Clay became active in local politics, and was eventually elected to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in 1959; he continued to serve as an alderman for the 26th Ward until 1964, at which time he resigned to become a union official and ward politician. In 1968, Clay was elected to Congress, becoming the first African American elected from Missouri and one of only two African American representatives who had been elected from states west of the Mississippi River at that time. Clay served sixteen terms in Congress, gaining a reputation for his streetwise urban politics and strong ties to organized labor.

One of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, Clay wrote a comprehensive treatise on the history of African American members of Congress titled: Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1991. Clay married his wife, Carol Ann Johnson, in 1953 in St. Louis; the couple had three children, Vicki Flynn, William Jr., and Michelle Katherine. Clay’s son William went on to his father's former congressional seat.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Clay interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Clay's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Clay offers some geneological background on his father and paternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Clay recalls his mother and how older folks never shared information with their children
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Clay shares his earliest memory of growing up in St Louis in the 1930s
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Clay remembers growing up in segregated St. Louis
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Clay describes the sights and sounds of his neighborhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Clay describes a racist encounter with the St. Louis police
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Clay continues with his tales of mischiveousness in primary and secondary school
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Clay remembers life at St. Nicholas Catholic School
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William Clay's early life ambitions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Clay recalls his school year job at the Good Luck Store
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Clay details the events which led him to attend college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Clay talks about his collegiate years at St. Louis University and pursuing an education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Clay is drafted to the Army and combats racism and segregation at Ft. McClellan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Clay speaks of his involvment in St. Louis' nascent civil rights movement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Clay decides to join CORE after getting kicked out of the NAACP
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Clay talks about challenges from established black organizations he faced as a young civil rights organizer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Clay moves from driving a bus to running for political office
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William Clay decides to run for St Louis City Council
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Clay remembers Earl B Dickinson, the first black Corporation Counsel in Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Clay credits women campaign managers and workers for his electoral successes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Clay shares his insight on what it takes to be a great politician
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Clay passes a bill from jail
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Clay credits his family for supporting his political ambitions
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Clay decides to run for the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Clay continues describing the political machinations behind securing labor support for his Congressional campaign
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Clay reveals his elections strategy for the Primary.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William Clay contrasts his organization against his opponents
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - William Clay details the political machinations to prevent him from gaining the congressional seat for the First District
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - William Clay recalls his feelings on election night and his son's electoral victory in the First Congressional District in 2000
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Clay talks about his first days in Congress and the beginnings of the Congressional Black Caucus
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - WIlliam Clay shares his impressions of fellow black congressmen in his first term
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Clay continues his recollections and the struggle for black self-determination in Congress
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Clay recalls how the Congressional Black Caucus forced Nixon to meet with the group
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Clay remembers Ossie Davis' famous speech on the future of black America
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Clay details why the Congressional Black Caucus was formed
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Clay shares how he he ended up writing a book on the history of blacks in Congress
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Clay reveals how a minority group can acheive its goals within an opposing majority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - William Clay describes the vibrancy and excitement of the Black Caucus' early years
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - WIlliam Clay shares a sidebar on how the Congressional Black Caucus helped Randall Robinson launch TransAfrica
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Clay discusses his 22 year fight to pass the Hatch Act
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Clay describes what the Hatch Act is
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Clay talks about his favorite and least favorite Presidential Administrations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Clay recalls the difficulty in passing the MLK Jr Holiday bill
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Clay reveals a poor relationship between the CBC and President Jimmy Carter
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Clay continues with revelations of deep rift with President Jimmy Carter
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Clay shares the names of his most admired colleagues in the House
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - William Clay remembers his dedicated congressional staff
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - William Clay recalls the landmark legislation he passed in Congress
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - William Clay speaks of Nixon and his attempts to destroy his political career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - WIlliam Clay is optimistic about the current black policymakers and politicians
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - William Clay is disturbed by black politicos who place money over ideals
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Clay tells the Jefferson Bank boycott story
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Clay says he doesn't second guess his political decisions
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Clay dissects white politicians political motives and strategies against the black community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Clay gives defines of a good politician
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Clay offers his vision of his legacy to America
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William Clay- Photo with Muhammed Ali
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - William Clay- Photo: Congressional Black Caucus
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - William Clay- Photo with Nelson Mandela
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - William Clay- Photo of William Clay Senior Housing Building
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - William Clay- Photo with Harry Belafonte
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - William Clay - Photo of the original members of the CBC cir. 1971
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - William Clay - Photo- the Clay Dynasty
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - William Clay- Photo with Senator Ted Kennedy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 14 - William Clay- Photo with President Clinton and the Pope
  • Tape: 6 Story: 15 - William Clay- Photo with his wife, Carol
  • Tape: 6 Story: 16 - William Clay- Photo with Lou Brock, baseball Hall of Famer
  • Tape: 6 Story: 17 - William Clay- Photo with President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore
  • Tape: 6 Story: 18 - William Clay- Photo with NASA's first black astronaut, Guion Bluford
  • Tape: 6 Story: 19 - William Clay- Photo of fundraising beer can with his likeness
  • Tape: 6 Story: 20 - William Clay- Photo with Delta Airlines captain
  • Tape: 6 Story: 21 - William Clay- Photo with his wife, 2000
  • Tape: 6 Story: 22 - William Clay- Photos of building named after him at the University of Missouri
  • Tape: 6 Story: 23 - WIlliam Clay- Photo with St. Louis Cardinal, Bob Gibson
  • Tape: 6 Story: 24 - William Clay- Photo of book cover, "Just Permanent Interests"