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1959 — the year Ruth C. Porter moved to St. Louis — marked the beginning of a decade that brought promises of political change and social justice.
In St. Louis, Porter saw a need for hard work, compassion, and an active challenge to policy. She immediately offered her talents to community organizations in the West End neighborhood where she lived. Working with the West End Community Conference, Kinloch YWCA, and various church and civic organizations, she organized Kinder Cottage – a much needed preschool program for local children.
As a community activist, Porter soon became involved with the Greater St. Louis Freedom of Residence program, serving as its first Executive Secretary. In this position she was involved in Jones v Mayer, the lawsuit (filed in 1965; decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1968) that broke the stranglehold of segregation in St. Louis.
In 1966, Porter ran for State Representative. One year later she was dead. In eight short years in St. Louis, Ruth Porter left an impact and a legacy behind her.
The mural depicted at the top of this page was created in homage to Porter’s efforts by children from the School of Visual and Performing Arts. It faces the former Blackstone Park, now renamed Ruth C. Porter Mall in her honor.
Today, more than thirty years after her death, the Ruth C. Porter Mall is a thriving park, reaching north for 9 blocks from 5649 Delmar to Etzel. Each year during the first week of September, the West End Community Conference hosts their Community Festival in the park and invites everyone to join them in celebration of their diverse community and perhaps a walk through the park in memory of Ruth C. Porter.