ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVE   A-CD-GH-LM-RS-Z

Marie "Frankie" Muse Freeman
National Visionary


Born in Danville, Virginia on November 24, 1916

Civil rights attorney, first woman appointed to the Civil Rights Commission








BIOGRAPHY

For more than sixty years, Marie Frankie Muse Freeman has served as an attorney in state and federal courts, fighting discrimination and helping to establish civil rights policies. Her work helped to end school and housing discrimination in Missouri. She is the first woman appointed to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (1964 to 1979), a branch of the federal government that investigates complaints alleging discrimination. And in 1982, Freeman was instrumental in creating the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan organization established in 1982 to monitor the civil rights policies and practices of the federal government in the United States.

Marie Frankie Muse was born in Danville, Virginia on November 24, 1916 to William Brown Muse, Sr. and Maud Beatrice (Smith). Freeman's parents believed in community involvement. Her father was active in his union and her mother was a school teacher and community activist. Freeman earned her undergraduate degree at Hampton University in Virginia, then went on to receive her law degree from Howard University in 1944, which was the same year her sister, Maudena, passed away after fighting a battle with pneumonia.  


Freeman as a young woman
In 1949, Freeman opened her own private law practice and co-counseled on a successful NAACP legal suit against the St. Louis Board of Education. In 1952, she was the lead attorney for the landmark NAACP case, Davis v. St. Louis Housing Authority , which eventually ended legal racial discrimination in public housing within the city. Freeman won the Supreme Court appeal for that case in 1954, the same year her mother passed away. Freeman then worked as staff attorney for the St. Louis Land Clearance and Housing Authorities from 1956 until 1970, first as associate general counsel and later as general counsel of the St. Louis Housing Authority.

In 1964, Freeman was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Freeman was reappointed by Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. She became Inspector General for the Community Services Administration during the Carter Administration in 1979. However, a little more than a year after she became inspector general, Ronald Reagan was elected president and his administration dismissed all inspector generals.

In the midst of landmark trials and court cases, Freeman became the 14th National President of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority Inc. in 1967. She later went on to travel and visit many African nations serving as U.S. representative at the United Nations housing conference in Lome, Togo. In 1978 President Carter appointed Freeman Inspector General of the Community Service Administration.  

Freeman continued to show her commitment to service as an active member on several boards, including Howard University Board of Trustees, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis (Board Chair), and National Council on Aging (Board Chair).

VIDEO CLIPS


EXTERNAL LINKS
Frankie Muse Freeman's Wikipedia Page

RELATED LINKS
Oliver Hill's Wikipedia Page (Civil rights lawyer)

URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/freemanfrankie


ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVE   A-CD-GH-LM-RS-Z