09:51 AM

22nd Judicial Circuit Court to unveil new memorial honoring history, legacy of the “Freedom Suits”

ST. LOUIS – As our nation pauses this year to observe and celebrate Juneteenth, dozens of elected, civic, and judicial leaders will join community members to pay tribute to a time in St. Louis history when groundbreaking legal precedent made fairness, justice, and equity possible for the enslaved. A new monument, designed by world renowned sculptor Preston Jackson, will be unveiled outside the Civil Courts Building in downtown St. Louis, honoring the hundreds of brave and tenacious Black Missourians who demonstrated great courage to fight for their freedom with the help of some equally brave lawyers, jurors, and judges under the “once free, always free” theory. 

The 14-foot bronze statue will sit atop an 8,000-pound black granite base etched with the names of these enslaved plaintiffs in what’s believed to be the largest known single collection of their identities. This series of legal challenges, filed predominately in the years ahead of the Civil War, would later come to be known as the “Freedom Suits.” The "Freedom Suits" cemented St. Louis as the country’s most active legal venue for these cases for nearly 60 years. 

The unveiling also marks the culmination of decades of research, planning, and organizing, led tirelessly by the Hon. David C. Mason and members of the Freedom Suits Memorial Steering Committee.

Monday, June 20 at 5 p.m.

East plaza of the Civil Courts Building (11th St. between Market & Chestnut)

The Freedom Suits Memorial unveiling ceremony will feature remarks by: 
- Keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré; 
- St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones; 
- Hon. David C. Mason; 
- Lynne Jackson, the great-great granddaughter of Freedom Suit plaintiffs Dred and Harriet Scott; and 
- Attorney Paul Venker, chairman of the Freedom Suits Memorial Steering Committee 

Musical performances will also be included. 

Jacob Long, Chief Communications officer  
22nd Judicial Circuit Court, City of St. Louis