Margaret Bush Wilson

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Margaret Bush Wilson
Margaret Bush Wilson, 2 Feb 1980.jpg
Wilson in 1980
Born(1919-01-30)January 30, 1919
St. Louis, Missouri
DiedAugust 11, 2009(2009-08-11) (aged 90)

Margaret Bush Wilson (January 30, 1919 – August 11, 2009) was an American layer and activist. Wilson broke many barriers as an African-American woman throughout her professional career.


Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she successfully managed a St. Louis law firm for more than 40 years.[1] Wilson completed her undergraduate degree at Talladega College. She graduated with honors in 1940, after studying in India for six months, as a recipient of the Juliette Derricotte Memorial Fund for Undergraduate Study in India, which had been established by Sue Bailey Thurman.[2]

Wilson was in the second class of the Lincoln University of Missouri School of Law, which had one other woman enrolled. She passed the bar and was the second African-American woman admitted to practice in Missouri.

In 1946, Wilson’s father, James T. Bush, a real estate broker, was instrumental in helping the J. D. Shelley family buy a home. The family was later ordered out of the home when the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the racial restrictive covenant governing the property was enforceable. As a young lawyer, Mrs. Wilson was counsel for the Real Estate Brokers Association, which was formed at her father's initiative to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelley v. Kraemer that such covenants were unenforceable in the courts.

In 1954, Wilson celebrated with colleagues and friends when the Brown vs. Board of Education decision was handed down. The next year, her five-year-old son started kindergarten at one of the city’s first integrated schools.

Wilson’s professional experience included serving as United States Attorney for the Rural Electrification Administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Assistant Attorney General of Missouri. She was Chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors, serving nine terms in that office.[3] She was Board Chair of two historically African-American colleges, St. Augustine's College and Talladega, and also served on numerous boards for national companies and nonprofit organizations. She was a trustee emerita of Washington University in St. Louis and Webster University, and was Chair of Law Day 2000 for the American Bar Association.


  1. ^ Joiner, Robert (August 14, 2009). "Margaret Bush Wilson, hailed as civil rights "giant," dies at 90". St. Louis Beacon. Archived from the original on August 17, 2009.
  2. ^ DiMauro, Susan (March 27, 2013). "The Juliette Derricotte Scholarship: From the Desk of Margaret Bush Wilson". Washington University Libraries. St. Louis, Missouri: Washington University. Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  3. ^ "NAACP Mourns the Passing of Margaret Bush Wilson". Archived from the original on August 17, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2009.

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