William Lacy Clay, Sr.

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William Lacy Clay, Sr. is a former Missouri Congressman. Clay married his wife, Carol Ann Johnson, in 1953 in St. Louis. They have three children, Vicki Flynn, William Lacy Clay, Jr. and Michelle Katherine. Clay's son now holds his former congressional seat.

Early life/education

William Lacy Clay, Sr. was born on April 30, 1931, in St. Louis to Luella Hyatt and Irving Clay. Growing up with six siblings in a St. Louis tenement, Clay excelled in school. However, at age thirteen Clay went to work, taking a job as a janitor in a clothing store where he later became the tailor. Clay graduated from St. Louis University in 1953 with a B.S. in political science. He served in the U.S. Army until 1955 and then became active in the civil rights movement[1].

Business career

Between 1955 and 1959, Clayworked as a real estate broker in St. Louis and from 1959 to 1961 as a manager of Industrial Life Insurance Company[2].


Clay became active in local politics before being elected to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in 1959. He continued to serve as an alderman for the 26th Ward until 1964, when he resigned to become a union official and ward politician. In 1968, Clay was elected to Congress, becoming the first African American elected from Missouri and one of only two African American representatives elected from states west of the Mississippi River. Clay served sixteen terms in Congress, gaining a reputation for his streetwise urban politics and strong ties to organized labor.

One of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, Clay wrote a comprehensive treatise on the history of Black members of Congress titled: Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1991[3].

Founding Members CBC

The following were founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus:[4]

"Congressional Pink Caucus"

In October 1989 the Nicaraguan Sandinista Government announced that they would no longer comply with the 19 month-old cease-fire agreement with the Contras. This had been considered a prime step forward for the "peace process" that was progressing slowly as part of the Arias Peace Plan.

A resolution was introduced in Congress deploring the Sandinistas' action. The Senate voted unanimously in favor, but in the House the vote was 379-29. All the 29 Congressmen voting against the resolution were Democrats.

The Council for Inter-American Security dubbed these 29 people the "Congressional Pink Caucus":

CBTU Missouri honor

In October 1992, Rep. Maxine Waters was keynote speaker at a Coalition of Black Trade Unionists meeting in St Louis Missouri - the 8th annual Ernest and Deverne Calloway Award at the Embassy Suites Hotel, held in honor of William Lacy Clay, Sr. Other speakers included Claude Brown (Teanmsters), Lt. Governor Mel Carnahan, St. Louis Alderman Ken Jones and Lew Moye (CBTU chapter president)[5]

Martinez Jobs Bill

Circa early June 1997 Congressmen Sidney Yates, Jesse Jackson, Jr., William Clay, John Conyers and delegate Donna Christensen, all signed on as co-sponsors of the Communist Party USA inspired Martinez Jobs Bill.[6]