1918 – 1985
Harold Holliday Sr. was a lawyer and legislator who devoted his career to civil rights activism. Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1918, he moved with his family two years later to Kansas City and lived there most of his life. After graduating from Central High School and then earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics, Holliday was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942.
Upon returning home, he applied to the University of Kansas City Law School but initially was rejected based on his race. He fought the decision, gained admittance in 1948, and became the first African American to receive a law degree from the school when he graduated four years later. Holliday went on to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives from 1965 to 1976, championing progressive legislation and earning a reputation as an inspiring orator. He was a charter member of Kansas City’s Freedom Inc. and served as an officer in the local chapter of the NAACP, in the Urban League, and in multiple bar associations. After leaving the state legislature he continued his public service as a magistrate judge and then as associate regional counsel in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.