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For the first time in its 66-year history, a black woman sits at the helm of what is considered to be the oldest, largest and foremost civil rights organization in the world - the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Attorney Margaret Bush Wilson was elected chairperson of the more than 400,000-member group when its board of directors met earlier this year. This distinguished St. Louis lawyer is no stranger to the civil rights movement. Her family's involvement with the NAACP resulted in the 1947 landmark Supreme Court decision against housing discrimination, when her father, the late James T. Bush, Sr., organized his fellow real estate brokers in St. Louis to bring suit against restrictive housing covenants. Mrs. Wilson's mother, the late former Berenice Casey, served on the executive committee of the St. Louis Chapter, and her sister and brother were active as well. Mrs. Wilson, however, was selected on her own credentials to charter the course of the nation's most influential black organization. An honor graduate of Talladega College (B.A. in economics, cum laude), and St. Louis' University School of Law (LL.B.), she launched her professional career as a real estate lawyer and was successful in incorporating the St. Louis brokers who had brought the historic housing suit. Her legal expertise, coupled with civic involvement, became even greater factors in the civil rights arena in the mid-1950s, when Mrs. Wilson joined the executive committee of the local NAACP branch. She served as its first woman president from 1958-1962, organized the first state-wide conference in Missouri and was elected to the NAACP National Board of Directors in 1963, on which she has served with great distinction and merit. Mrs. Wilson sat on the board's task force on President Johnson's Anti-Poverty and Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and critical board decisions have been influenced by her advice and guidance. Attorney Wilson realistically acknowledges that critical challenges, magnified by the economic recession, face the NAACP's management and the civil rights movement in general. She has an idea where she wants to go: revitalize the civil rights thrust, stimulate more leadership from the organization's young members, double the membership and launch a broad-scaled assault on the remaining roadblocks to citizen equality. Armed with the ability to relate to the various segments of the National Community, spurred by commitment and dedication, Margaret Bush Wilson, observers say, is eminently qualified to meet the challenges that face this organization . . . . [[image - black and white photograph of a group of men and women]] [[image - black and white photograph of Roy Wilkins and Margaret Bush Wilson]] [[caption]] ROY WILKINS with MARGARET BUSH WILSON, Attorney-at-Law, St. Louis, Missouri, elected President of NAACP. [[/caption]] [[image - black and white photograph of a large gathering of people, some seated at round dinner tables, others standing]] 171
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