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Margaret Bush Wilson

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Information about Margaret Bush Wilson

Profile image of Margaret Bush Wilson

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Branch Chief Executive
Real Estate Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Lemon Yellow
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Favorite Quote:
To Thine Own Self Be True.

Birthplace

Born:
1/30/1919
Birth Location:
St. Louis, Missouri

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Branch Chief Executive
Real Estate Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Lemon Yellow
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Favorite Quote:
To Thine Own Self Be True.

Birthplace

Born:
1/30/1919
Birth Location:
St. Louis
See how Margaret Bush Wilson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

NAACP leader, activist attorney Margaret Bush Wilson was born Margaret Bush on January 30, 1919, in St. Louis, Missouri. Wilson’s father, a railway postal clerk, James Thomas Bush was a 1900 Prairie View A&M graduate and her mother, Margaret Bernice Casey Bush taught kindergarten. Both of Wilson’s parents were active in the local NAACP, with her mother serving as an executive board member. Wilson attended grade school on the grounds of Sumner High School where lifelong friend Julia Davis mentored her. After graduating from Sumner High School in 1935, Wilson enrolled at Talladega College where she was awarded a Juliette Derricotte Fellowship to study at Visva-Bharati University in India, and where she met Nobel Prize winning poet, Rabindranath Tragore. Wilson graduated in 1939 with her B.S. degree in economics. A beneficiary of the Gains v. Canada law suit, Wilson enrolled in Missouri’s newly created Lincoln University Law School, graduating and passing the bar in 1943. Wilson was in the second class which had one other woman enrolled; she was the second woman of color admitted to practice in Missouri, joining Dorothy Freeman, Edith Sampson, Frankie Freeman, Sadie Alexander and other female law pioneers.

Starting as a clerk/secretary for attorney David Grant, Wilson was soon hired by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Electrification Administration. Marrying Robert E. Wilson in 1944, Wilson joined her husband in Chicago as he finished Kent College of Law. In 1946, Wilson returned to St. Louis and started the law firm Wilson and Wilson with her husband. Wilson’s specialty was real estate law, which complimented her father’s profession as a realtor. Wilson served as counsel for the black Real Estate Brokers Association, initiated by her father, and was instrumental in Shelley v. Kramer, a 1948 Supreme Court ruling that held housing covenants unenforceable. Active in the St. Louis NAACP, Wilson became St. Louis NAACP branch president in 1958 and worked cooperatively with Marion Oldham of CORE. During Wilson’s presidency, the NAACP won several civil rights cases including the Rankin Trade School Case and the Jefferson Bank case. In 1962, Wilson became president of the Missouri NAACP. During President Lyndon Johnson’s administration, Wilson served as deputy director of the Model Cities Program. As head of Lawyers for Housing in 1966, Wilson proposed the creation of one thousand new units of housing. In 1975, Wilson became chairman of the national NAACP board, serving nine terms.

During the 1980s, Wilson served as chairman of the board of the Mutual Insurance Company of New York, Real Estate Investment Trust. Wilson was also past board chairman of two historically black colleges, St. Augustine's College and Talladega, in addition to serving on numerous boards for national companies and nonprofit organizations. A trustee-emeritae of Washington University and Webster University, Wilson served as chair of Law Day 2000 for the American Bar Association.

Wilson, whose hero was Celie, the victim in a nineteenth century Missouri slavery trial, raised one son and was continuing to practice law in St. Louis at the time of her HistoryMakers interview.

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

See how Margaret Bush Wilson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Margaret Bush Wilson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her mother's childhood in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes segregation in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her father's childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers the vendors in her neighborhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes herself as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers St. Louis baseball teams
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers Annie Malone, founder of Poro College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers meeting W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers her mother's NAACP involvement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers her teacher, Julia Davis
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls attending St. James A.M.E. Church in St. Louis
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her academic and extracurricular interests
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls attending Charles H. Sumner High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers the teachers at Charles H. Sumner High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers her pastimes as a teenager
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls the impact of the Great Depression on her family, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls the impact of the Great Depression on her family, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson compares St. Louis, Missouri to Talladega, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson explains how she paid tuition at Talladega College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls her experiences at Talladega College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers being awarded a scholarship to travel to India
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls studying at Visva-Bharati University in India
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers meeting Rabindranath Tagore
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers her reception as an African American in India
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes the caste system in India
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers meeting Mahatma Gandhi
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls meeting Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her return to the United States from India
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers her mentor, Hilda Davis
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers her activities at Talladega College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls her decision to attend law school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls the case of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 1938
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls her education at Lincoln University School of Law
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls her experiences at Lincoln University School of Law
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers passing the bar exam in Missouri
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers trying her first case
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls working for the Rural Electrification Administration
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers living briefly in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes the case of Shelley v. Kraemer, 1948, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes the case of Shelley v. Kraemer, 1948, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls the Real Estate Brokers Association of St. Louis
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes the legal proceedings of Shelley v. Kraemer, 1948
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson speculates how the case of Shelley v. Kraemer was won
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls the historic designation of the Shelley house
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers her campaign for U.S. Congress
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls becoming president of St. Louis' NAACP chapter
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls integrating St. Louis' Ranken Trade School, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls integrating St. Louis' Ranken Trade School, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers working with the St. Louis chapter of CORE
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers attending the March on Washington
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson shares her criticism of the March on Washington
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers Roy Wilkins
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers Benjamin Hooks' leadership of the NAACP
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls the case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 1982
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson reflects upon her conflict with Benjamin Hooks
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers working for the St. Louis Model Cities program
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls being terminated from the Model Cities program
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers working for Lawyers for Housing
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls forming the Land Reutilization Authority
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls organizing the NAACP's first trip to Africa
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers the NAACP's delegation to Africa
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson reflects upon the NAACP's relationship with Africa
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson remembers the Jefferson Bank and Trust Company case
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Margaret Bush Wilson talks about her law firm, Wilson and Associates
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her greatest reward for her life's work
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Margaret Bush Wilson reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes the case of State of Missouri v. Celia, a Slave, 1855
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Margaret Bush Wilson talks about the impact of Celia's story
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Margaret Bush Wilson talks about her family
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Margaret Bush Wilson describes her hopes for the United States
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls hosting Clarence Thomas in her home, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Margaret Bush Wilson recalls hosting Clarence Thomas in her home, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Margaret Bush Wilson narrates her photographs