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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

Feb 20, 2022

There have many heroes in the struggle for equity and civil rights. Few had the longevity of Nathan B. Young.  In his 98 years, he was a judge, as well as being a co-founder of the St. Louis American Newspaper, and a painter, among many other accomplishments. Just press play to hear the whole story. ------ 

Click on search links to explore episodes with related content: Cicely Hunter, Black History, Journalism, Legal Matters, Civil Rights, People of Note, ------ 


Podcast Transcript: I’m Cicely Hunter, Public Historian from the Missouri Historical Society, and here’s history, on eighty-eight-one, KDHX. ------

Nathan B. Young, a prominent African American judge in St. Louis, lived to be 98, passing away in 1993. It’s amazing to think about what he experienced over those years, things like the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement, and the desegregation busing era. His life was interesting from the very beginning. Born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1894, he lived next door to Booker T. Washington. ———

Judge Young graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M and a law degree from Yale University Law School in 1918. As a young attorney in Birmingham, Judge Young was targeted and threatened by the Ku Klux Klan due to his involvement with the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Judge Young decided to migrate north with his wife, Mamie, and practiced law in St. Louis. He described the city as an “oasis compared to Birmingham, Alabama, at the time in 1924.” ———

A few years later he co-founded the St. Louis American, an African American weekly newspaper, which was soon being circulated to over 2,000 readers. Young contributed an editorial in every single issue for over forty years. One of his first articles focused on the work of A. Philip Randolph, a labor unionist and civil rights advocate, who Young described as an “unsung hero.” Randolph experienced many challenges fighting “to get recognition as a regular labor organization from the Pullman Company which had set up its own porters’ union.” ———

Young enjoyed researching local Black history and developed an expertise, even writing a history of African Americans in St. Louis in 1937. When the civil rights movement was discussed, Judge Young concluded that St. Louis was important to the civil rights movement as a city with a strong Black activism presence and there were several cases that received national attention like Dred and Harriet Scott’s freedom suit, Shelley v Kraemer and Gaines v Canada. ———

Judge Young was named the first African American municipal judge for City Court #2 in St. Louis by Mayor Alfonso Cervantes in December of 1965. He would retire as judge in 1972 but continued to influence the community. In honor of Black history month, let’s recognize local African Americans like Judge Nathan B. Young Jr. who shared Black history with his community and now contributes to the legacy of our city. ———

Here’s history is a joint production of the Missouri Historical Society and KDHX. I’m Cicely Hunter and this is eighty-eight-one, KDHX, St. Louis.