July 1, 2021 No Responses

Centene Charitable Foundation to Match $100,000 in Donations to Freedom Suits Memorial

The Centene Charitable Foundation  recently announced they are creating a donation challenge, promising it will match dollar for dollar all donations to the Freedom Suits Memorial, up to $100,000 effective immediately. The Memorial fundraising goal is $1 million. Thus far, lawyers and other members of our community have donated over $350,000.

From the time of the Louisiana Purchase until the Emancipation Proclamation 57 years later, approximately 400 slaves filed suits in Missouri Courts to demand their freedom, assisted by lawyers working without pay. A memorial commemorating these brave St. Louis litigants and their attorneys will be in the east plaza of the Civil Courts Building in downtown St. Louis.

The centerpiece of the Memorial will be a 14-foot-tall bronze sculpture which will honor the hundreds of slave plaintiffs who took great personal risk in suing their masters to be declared free. The Memorial represents St. Louis Circuit Judge David C. Mason’s great desire to honor these litigants and the creative genius of nationally renowned artist Preston Jackson. There will also be a website-based, virtual learning center (VLC), which will be a national resource for information on the struggles and victories of Blacks in America from before the freedom suits up to current times.

“We are humbled to be involved in this inspirational project that will be a source of pride for generations. We view this partnership as a continuing fulfillment of our commitment to building a strong, informed and diverse community in St. Louis and across the nation,” said Michael Neidorff, chairman, president, and CEO of Centene.

Judge Mason, who first conceived the Memorial, said, “The design vividly shows how two centuries ago, St. Louis provided proof for the American ideal that even those with the least means can achieve justice through the courts. This work will become another sculptural icon for St. Louis.”

“This important chapter of American history — and Missouri history — deeply deserves closer examination and illumination,” said Steering Committee Chair Paul Venker. “Our entire committee thanks the Centene Charitable Foundation for the incredibly generous donation and its commitment to a project that connects the courageous acts of these litigants to the continuing struggle of African Americans to overcome barriers to justice.”

You can learn a lot more about the freedom suits and about this Memorial simply by clicking here to view the powerful and poignant video about why the Freedom Suits Memorial is so important for our community and our nation.

Click to donate securely online