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Frankie Muse Freeman was a trailblazing legal pioneer who enjoyed a decades-long career and achieved many high marks. Ms. Freeman passed away on January 12, and a nation fondly remembers one of its brightest civil rights stars.

She was born Marie Frankie Muse on November 12, 1916 and raised in Danville, Virginia. As a teenager, she entered Hampton Institute (now University), her mother’s alma mater. She then entered Howard University School of Law and earned her law degree in 1947.

Freeman’s legal career exploded onto the national stage when she served as the lead attorney in the Davis vs. St. Louis Housing Authority matter for the NAACP in 1954. The landmark case helped to end racial discrimination in public housing, and she settled in the St. Louis region after winning the case.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Freeman to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the first Black woman to serve in that role. Freeman served under several presidents until 1979 for the Commission. Adding to her achievements, Freeman was also the 14th president of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and served on several boards across St. Louis and nationally.

In 1990, she was named to the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame, and in 2003, Freeman published her biography, A Song of Faith and Hope.

Freeman was 101 years of age.

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