Lloyd L. Gaines

Lloyd L. Gaines

Lloyd Lionel Gaines (1913?—disappeared March 19, 1939) was the central figure of one of the most important court cases in the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1930s.

Gaines, a high school valedictorian who graduated with honors from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, with a Bachelor's degree in history, applied in 1936 for admission to the Law School at the University of Missouri. In April, the university denied his admission on grounds of race. Missouri's policy at the time was to pay the expenses of black students' education out of state.

Gaines and his lawyer, Charles Hamilton Houston, took their case to court. After the Boone County court and Missouri Supreme Court both ruled in favor of the university, the argument proceeded to the United States Supreme Court, where Gaines v. Canada was argued on November 9, 1938, and became the most important segregation case since Plessy v. Ferguson. Sy Woodson Canada was the registrar at the University of Missouri School of Law at that time. In a 1978 interview for National Public Radio, the then-80-year-old Canada revealed that he had been instructed to by his superiors at the University to deny admission to Gaines. Canada recalled that Gaines met all the admissions requirements "except he was colored."

On December 12, 1938, the court, in a 6-2 decision, ordered the State of Missouri to either admit Gaines to the University of Missouri or provide another school of equal stature within the state borders. However, Gaines never attended the university.

Gaines was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. On the night of March 19, 1939, Gaines left the fraternity house in Chicago, Illinois, telling others he was going out to buy stamps; he was never seen again.

In 2001, the University of Missouri-Columbia renamed its Black Culture Center in Gaines' honor. Additionally, a scholarship offered by the UMC Law School is named for Gaines.

In 2006, Gaines was granted an honorary law degree by the University of Missouri and the Supreme Court of Missouri named him an honorary member of the Missouri Bar.


*cite news
first= Edward T.
last= Clayton
title= unknown
publisher= Ebony magazine
date= May, 1951

*cite news
first= Patrick
last= Cronan
title= A Battle of Yesterday--Integrating Missouri
work= Focus-Midwest, Issue 64, Vol. 10
publisher= FOCUS/Midwest Publishing Company
pages= 26-27
date= May-June 1974

*cite news
first= Daniel T.
last= Kelleher
title= The Case of Lloyd Lionel Gaines: The Demise of the Separate but Equal Doctrine
work= Journal of Negro History
publisher= Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Inc.
pages= 262-271
date= October 1971

*"Alpha Phi Alpha Men: A Century of Leadership" , 2006, Producer/Directors: Alamerica Bank/Rubicon Productions

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