11:12 AM

‘Is It Legal To…?’: Missouri’s Freedom Suits, ‘The Milly Project’

February is Black History Month, when we honor the triumphs and struggles of Black individuals throughout U.S. history. To celebrate Black History Month, The Missouri Bar’s newest “Is It Legal To…?” episode explores freedom suits and “The Milly Project.” These topics highlight courageous Black Missourians who legally fought for their freedom.

Guest Hon. David C. Mason, circuit judge with the 22nd Judicial Circuit, was instrumental establishing the Freedom Suits Memorial in downtown St. Louis last summer. The statue honors the more than 300 Black Missourians who, over nearly six decades in the 1800s, fought for their freedom in St. Louis circuit court with the assistance of lawyers, judges, and jurors. In the first half of the podcast, Mason describes the struggles Black plaintiffs faced in court at that time, the reasoning behind the monument’s creation, and lessons the freedom suits still hold two centuries later.

“The Milly Project” is an award-winning film adaption of a play that tells the true story of an enslaved woman named Milly Sawyers, who fought for and legally won her freedom in Springfield before the Civil War. Christa Moss, civil assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, helped organize continuing legal education programming that centered around “The Milly Project.” In the second half of the podcast episode, Moss discusses Sawyers’ legal battle and why her story still resonates with the legal profession today.

Listen to the new episode at Soundcloud.com or by clicking the play button below.


“Is It Legal To…?” is produced by The Missouri Bar, with hosts Communications Director Farrah Fite and veteran Missourinet reporter Bob Priddy. To listen to more episodes, visit MissouriLawyersHelp.org/IsItLegalTo

Do you have a legal topic you would like discussed? Do you want to be a guest on an upcoming podcast episode? Email Fite at ffite@mobar.org