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Thu, 04.30.1931

William Clay Sr. Politician born

William Clay Sr.

*William Clay Sr. was born on this date in 1931.  He is a retired Black politician.  

William Lacy Clay Sr. was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Luella S. (Hyatt) and Irving Charles Clay.  He graduated from Saint Louis University. Clay served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955 and was a St. Louis alderman from 1959 to 1964. Clay served 105 days in jail for participating in a Civil Rights demonstration in 1963. Before entering Congress, Clay held jobs first as a real estate broker and later as a labor coordinator.

He worked for the union of St. Louis city employees from 1961 to 1964 and then with a Steamfitters Union until 1967. Clay married Carol Ann Johnson in 1953. They had three children, including William Lacy Clay Jr., who would succeed his father in the U.S. House. Clay was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1968. He advocated for environmental justice, labor issues, and social justice. Clay faced ethics charges in the 1970s for billing the government on auto trips while flying on airlines, and the House banking scandal revealed that Clay had 328 overdrafts. In 1993, Clay helped to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act.  From 1991 until the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1995, Clay chaired the House Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service. As Congressman from Missouri's First District, he represented portions of St. Louis in the U.S. House of Representatives for 32 years.  

In 2000, he retired from the House, and his son Lacy Clay succeeded him.  In 1996, the William L. Clay Center for Molecular Electronics (now the Center for Nano-science) was dedicated in his honor on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  Clay is also the founder of the William L. Clay Scholarship and Research Fund, which awards college scholarships to high school seniors living in Missouri's First Congressional District. The Fund, a 501(c)3 organization, has been awarded scholarships since 1985.  Poplar Street Bridge, which connects St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois, was renamed on October 7, 2013, Congressman William L. Clay Sr. Bridge.   William L. Clay has a star and informative biographical plaque on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.  

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