City, state leaders celebrate civil rights icon Frankie Freeman

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - Leaders from around the city and state celebrated the 100th birthday and honored the work of civil rights icon, Frankie Freeman, Saturday in downtown St. Louis.

"She is in my view one of the most accomplished, most selfless, most giving, most well-respected person, St. Louisan that I know" said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.  "She has had a lifetime of commitment to people, to civil rights, to equality, to fairness and has always done a lot to help those who need help and those who are disadvantaged" Slay said.

Freeman is largely known for her role in helping put an end to racial discrimination in public housing.  She served as one of the lead attorney's in the landmark case Davis v. St. Louis Public Housing Authority.

"Most of our major and significant victories in the court- with the board of education, desegregating public housing, things of that nature- Frankie led the charge on there" said St. Louis NAACP President, Adolphus Pruitt.  "So for us, this is a celebration of her life" he said.

In 1964, after being appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Freeman became the first woman to serve on the US Commission on Civil Rights.  She says while there are still many issues concerning racial equality, a lot of progress have been made.

"There has been progress and there continues to be progress but there’s work to do" Freeman said.  "We’ve all got work to do".

Its work made a little easier thanks to the contributions of St. Louis' own Frankie Freeman; a civil rights icon who is quick to turn the spotlight away from herself.

"This is overwhelming" said Freeman who turns 100 in November.  "Thank you to the community.  Because there’s nothing I’ve been able to do by myself" she said.  "I’ve had help in the community, from the community, and of course from my belief as a Christian".