Civil rights activist and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s 14th national president (1967-1971), Frankie Muse Freeman passed away on Friday, January 12, 2018. Her daughter, Shelbe Patricia Bullock, confirmed her death to the St. Louis Dispatch, “She went peacefully with her family beside her. We ask for privacy until Sunday so we can plan services. She was a marvelous, warm woman, and we want to send her off in a good way.”

A civil rights attorney, Freeman was born Marie Frankie Muse on November 24, 1916 in Danville, Virginia, where she attended Westmoreland School and learned to play the piano.  She attended Hampton Institute from 1933 to 1936. She met and married Shelby T. Freeman in New York. In 1944, she was admitted to Howard University Law School where she graduated second in her class in 1947.

Freeman was a vital part of the civiil rights movement, dubbed a member of NAACP legal brain trust, which included Sidney Redmond, Robert Witherspoon and Henry Espy in the NAACP’s 1949 Brewton v. the Board of Education of St. Louis, following the case to victory in the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri. In 1954, the same year as Brown v. the Board of Education, Freeman was the lead attorney for the landmark NAACP case Davis et al v. the St. Louis Housing Authority, which ended legal racial discrimination in public housing.

Freeman was an assistant attorney general of Missouri and staff attorney for the St. Louis Land Clearance and Housing Authorities from 1956 to 1970, which is among a lifetime of feats.

Freeman penned A Song of Faith and Hope: The Life of Frankie Muse Freeman and has received several honorary doctorate degrees from institutions that include Hampton University, Washington University and Howard University. She was inducted into the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame in 1990.

Yvette Caslin

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