Statement on the Passing of Frankie Muse Freeman
Dear Howard University Community,
I wish to express my deep condolences regarding the passing of iconic St. Louis civil rights leader, Frankie Muse Freeman. The longtime civil rights leader, lawyer, and activist passed Friday, January 12, 2018, at the age of 101.
Mrs. Freeman was a champion in the fight for ending the promotion of segregated housing; she also promoted equal rights in St. Louis and nationwide during the Civil Rights Movement. Mrs. Freeman was the lead attorney in the landmark court case Davis v. St. Louis Housing Authority, filed in federal court in 1952, that led to the end of racial segregation in public housing in St. Louis. In 1964, Mrs. Freeman became the first woman on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, which investigates discrimination complaints, collects data on discrimination and advises the president and lawmakers on issues of discrimination and equal protection.
Mrs. Freeman who hailed from Danville, Va., graduated from what is now known as Hampton University with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, and later moved to New York, where she hoped to enter law school. However, the school balked at her undergraduate credits. Thankfully, after moving to Washington, D.C., Mrs. Freeman went on to attend Howard University School of Law, where she graduated second in her class. Freeman, her husband, and their two children later moved to St. Louis, and she opened her own practice in 1949.
During my visit to St. Louis a few years ago, I witnessed first-hand Mrs. Freeman’s commitment to being an active alum. She was still raising money and donating to Howard to ensure that others would have access to the same opportunities that she was afforded. Welcoming Mrs. Freeman back to the Capstone as a platform guest during the 2016 commencement convocation to hear President Obama deliver his address remains one of my favorite Howard memories. She was lovingly known as “Freedom Frankie” and, on this auspicious weekend especially, her work reminds us that freedom isn’t free rather it has come about by the tireless efforts of people who are as courageous as she was.
I would like to encourage all members of the Howard community to continue carrying the banner high in the legacy of Mrs. Freeman—a true daughter of Howard. I am confident that Mrs. Freeman’s work and mission will continue to thrive by the efforts of those she, led, mentored, advised and taught.
On behalf of Howard University, I wish to express our deep condolences to Mrs. Freeman’s family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this time.
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA