WLCSRF was the vision of retired Congressman William L. “Bill” Clay, Sr.
The first African American elected from Missouri to the U.S. House of  Representatives. 

Our Founder

William L. Clay, Sr.

William L. “Bill” Clay Sr. was born April 30, 1931 in St. Louis MO. He and his 8 brothers and sisters were raised in a tenement apartment with no indoor plumbing or hot water. By the age of 13 he was working as a janitor in a clothing store to help support his family. By 18 Bill was a salesman. Through his savings and scholarships he was able to attend college, graduating (as one of four blacks in a class of 1,100) from St. Louis University in 1953 with a B.A. in history and political science.

In a major election upset in 1959, Bill was elected to the St. Louis Board of Alderman to represent the Twenty-Sixth Ward. In 1968 he was elected to Congress from Missouri’s 1st District, beating 5 primary opponents and a strong challenger in the General Election.

As a Congressman, Bill immediately made his mark as a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971. 

Bill used his experience as a civil rights activist and labor union representative in St. Louis to promote legislation to help minorities and American workers, particularly organized labor. An advocate of improving the education of underserved students, Bill passed significant federal legislation to reduce class sizes, increase the number of college grants for disadvantaged students, and boost federal funding for historically black colleges.

Bill zealously represented his constituents with a strong voice in Congress. Never one to avoid confrontation, the fiery dean of the Missouri delegation observed:

“I didn’t get so tied to the job that it stopped me from speaking out.”

Bill retired in 2001 having passed more than 100 pieces of legislation and as the third most senior member of the House of Representatives.

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