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Home > Programs > St. Louis History in Black and White


St. Louis History in Black and White: From Dred Scott to Barack Obama


Shelley vs. Kraemer: 1945-1948

The flurry of Constitutional Amendments after the Civil War were designed to offer the Constitutional protection that had been denied African Americans since before the Republic was founded. Of particular importance was the 14th Amendment and its equal protection and due process clauses. It was designed to overturn the Dred Scott ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which held in 1857 that held that blacks could not be citizens of the United States. But, it did not end discrimination in some areas for decades. In spite of Constitutional protections, blacks were unable to live where they chose because of the practice called “restrictive covenants.” These covenants prevented blacks from living in certain areas. It took a landmark St. Louis case almost a century after the 14th Amendment to fracture the practice of these covenants which was in widespread use in the city. It was known as the Shelley vs. Kraemer case and was detailed by author/historian Jeffrey Copeland, the author of Olivia’s Story.

Listen to the episode:



Author/historian Jeffrey Copeland, the author of Olivia’s Story.



Additional information about this episode:

U.S. Supreme Court Media: Case details

Legal background

Google Scholar list of related academic and legal papers

YouTube video of Copeland talking about Olivia's Story, among other videos about the case

Audio of Copeland reading from Olivia's Story


Video from Nine Network of Public Media's Living St. Louis:

This piece aired after the death of Margaret Bush Wilson.


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