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28 Days of Excellence

28 DOBE- Day 2: Frankie Muse Freeman

She was the first woman elected to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, a body founded in 1957 that investigates and reports on issues pertaining to civil rights.



Frankie Muse Freeman being sworn in


28 Days of Black Excellence

An ongoing series for the entire 28 days of Black History Month that showcases the inventions, the people, and culture that makes people of the African diaspora so excellent.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”green” border_width=”3″][vc_column_text]She was the first woman elected to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, a body founded in 1957 that investigates and reports on issues pertaining to civil rights. Composed of eight commissioners, four are appointed by the President of the United States, two by the President Pro Tempore, and two by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. So, when she was elected to the position in 1964, no only had it been monumental, it had been an uphill battle that she overcame like no one before her. And during one of the most turbulent periods of 1964.

Born and raised in Danville, Virginia, 1916, she was named after her grandfather, Frank. It is said that when the Klan encroached upon his land, old Frank chased them off with a power of voice and threat of violence fiercer than a biblical fire and brimstone shower.

During a time of harsh racial segregation, her, her family, and friends, didn’t even bother sitting on the back of the bus–they walked due to the extremity of the racism.

Receiving her law degree from Howard University in 1947, because she’d always promised herself as a little girl that she would, she worked on her very first civil rights case in 1949, well before the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that declared segregation in schools unconstitutional.

Eventually, some of the cases she’d been working on came to the attention of people in Washington. Soon after, as word of her work spread, she was recommended to President Kennedy. She was thusly called upon to work on a few cases. With his unfortunate, and quite premature, death in 1963, Ms. Freeman assumed her tenure was over. However, in February of the following year, President Johnson met with her and informed her of his intention to nominate her for the position of Commissioner, which had only 6 members at the time.

Ultimately, Ms. Freeman practiced law for nearly 60 years.

FRANKIE MUSE FREEMAN, black excellence, black history month

Photo by Laurie Skrivan

Speaking on the issue of race and how important unity is, Ms. Freeman had this to say: “You have to be dedicated, you have to recognize it is a risk. Become involved in many organizations…I believe everyone has a responsibility. We are American citizens. I love my country. And I think we have to work for. And absolutely vote, and vote right.”

Frankie Muse Freeman passed away January 2018, at 101 years young, and received many honors and recognition before she passed, so that her memory will live on, and far exceed her time on this earth, in this country she adored so much:

Honorary doctorate degrees from several institutions to include Hampton University, University of Missouri–St. Louis, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis and Howard University.

1990: Inducted into the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame.

2011: Received the Spingarn Medal of the NAACP.

2014: Received the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession.

May she now, and always, represent the best parts of being black and excellent. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]