Jefferson Bank demonstrations

During a 2010 interview, Norman Seay shared this photo of Jefferson Bank protesters being led to jail. A young William Clay, before he was elected to Congress, is second from left. Seay is the man wearing a hat and is behind the man with a pocket handkerc
Provided by Mr. Seay

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: About two dozen people, some from as far away as New York, California and North Carolina, gathered in the 2300 block of Market Street on Friday afternoon to mark the 50th anniversary of the Jefferson Bank demonstrations. As they took part in the commemorative march, some involved in the original movement offered stories about life in segregated St. Louis half a century ago.

(via Wikimedia Commons / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

In the summer of 1963, hundreds of thousands across the nation converged on Washington, D.C. to march for jobs and freedom.

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis, local civil rights activists were gearing up for a demonstration of their own: a picket line and sit-in at Jefferson Bank, also calling for equal employment for African Americans. Despite being located in an African American neighborhood, the only African Americans employed by the bank worked as janitors.


This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The 2600 block of Washington Boulevard is still remembered as the spot marking the beginning of what would become the largest civil disobedience demonstration for economic equality in St. Louis. Launched on Aug. 30, 1963, the protest involved about 150 blacks and whites who gathered outside of what was then the headquarters of the Jefferson Bank & Trust Co. The goal was to prod the bank to hire blacks for white-collar jobs.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In 1963, when it appeared that blacks protesting the discriminatory practices at Jefferson Bank and Trust Co. in St. Louis were not being taken seriously, Dr. Jerome Williams thought it was time to step up and step in.

He organized doctors and other professionals to join the marchers.

“Jerome Williams did a fantastic job of organizing support,” said civil rights activist Norman R. Seay. “We saluted him because so many people were against what we were doing, even many middle-class blacks.”