African American Civil Rights Trails Act and St. Louis

Congressman Lacy Clay, D- University City and Congressman Jason Smith, R-Salem, have co-authored the African American Civil Rights Trails Act, which will authorize the National Park Service to establish a program “to preserve and protect the memory of the people and places” in that struggle. For now, the bill does not name specific sites; however, Clay believes St. Louis should be the first stop on the trail, to commemorate Dred Scott. Clay has been key in supporting many sites in our region, including the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing.

For over a decade, H3 Studio has worked with the local community leaders, neighbors, and historians to ensure the protection, interpretation and master planning this Freedom Trail and linking the region through the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing, Missouri’s first nationally recognized Underground Railroad Site. It developed through a community effort into a national cultural destination in North St. Louis on the Riverfront Trail. It is a place to contemplate the courage shown by those individuals 160 years ago, where Mary Meachum and a man named Isaac helped 9 freedom seekers cross the Mississippi on their northern journey to freedom.

The 11 acre site adjacent to the Mississippi River flood wall was designed with the community as a sustainable, evocative, and artistic place to reflect. Key proposed design elements include story paths leading visitors through the crossing journey; the Wall of Remembrance engraved with names of enslaved African Americans of the area; Plinths engraved to tell the story of the times; an exterior amphitheater; stairs at the point of departure; an interpretive center; parking and restrooms; and a lighted tower on the east side of the river, as a beacon to freedom.