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Making Change at the Bank

William Clay and the fight for justice


While he was still a city alderman, William Clay, Sr. wrote a scathing report on employment in St. Louis titled “Anatomy of an Economic Murder.” Clay’s paper documented the complete lack of black employees at newspapers, auto dealerships, dairies, the breweries – and Jefferson Bank, which had recently moved to a new location downtown after firing all its black employees. Clay and other activists such as Ivory Perry and Marian Oldham marched on the bank daily for months, enduring threats and intimidation to force a change through non-violent means. This key incident in the history of St. Louis is documented in Clay’s most recent book, The Jefferson Bank Confrontation: The Struggle for Civil Rights in St. Louis. Clay discusses the book and the protest this evening at 7 p.m. at the Florissant Valley branch of the St. Louis County Library (195 New Florissant Road, Florissant; 314-921-7200 or, an event which serves as the initial celebration of the county library’s Black History Month program. Admission is free, and copies of The Jefferson Bank Confrontation will be available for purchase.
Thu., Jan. 8, 2009