Historic Shelley House Inducted as First Missouri Site on the New African American Civil Rights Network

May 24, 2019
Press Release

“Congressman Clay, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Aurelia Skipwith Make Historic Designation of North St. Louis Civil Rights Landmark”

ST. LOUIS. MO – Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri joined Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior Aurelia Skipwith and local leaders today as the historic Shelley House in North St. Louis was inducted as the first federally designated site in Missouri on the new African American Civil Rights Network.  The Shelley House, located in the Greater Ville Neighborhood, was at the center of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision (Shelley v. Kraemer) which struck down restricted racial covenants in housing in 1948.

The new historic trail, which was created by legislation authored by Congressman Clay, is designed to preserve, protect and promote significant places that played critical roles in the modern struggle for Civil Rights.  In his remarks at this historic occasion, Mr. Clay said, in-part:

“The historic legal battle to end restrictive covenants in residential housing was a great victory not just for the courageous Shelley family;

But for the fundamental principle that in America…where you live should not be determined by what you look like.

And homeowners should be able to live together in harmony without discrimination and hate.

In 2018, the African American Civil Rights Network Act, a bill that I authored, was signed into law.

My bill authorized the National Park Service to establish a program to preserve and protect the memory of the people and places that were significant in the struggle to secure equal rights for African Americans between 1939-1968. 

Today, young Americans find it difficult to believe that racial segregation was once considered normal and necessary in some parts of the United States…including right here in St. Louis.

So my hope is that besides preserving our history and telling the honest story of the civil rights struggle…

The African American Civil Rights Network will also create an opportunity for truth and reconciliation to help heal some of the divisions in our nation.

Places like the Shelley House recognize the courage and sacrifices of the brave souls from all walks of life who endured violence, hatred, and oppression as they fought to make the promises enshrined in our constitution finally ring true for every American, regardless of the color of their skin.

And today, the Shelley House becomes the first place in the State of Missouri to be officially designated by the Department of the Interior for inclusion on the African American Civil Rights Network. The struggle for freedom and equality is one of the truly magnificent and heroic episodes of our nation’s history.

And I want to remind you that while we have much to celebrate today…that struggle is not over…and the fight for fair housing continues.”