A president, senator and newspaper publisher will be the inaugural inductees into the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame. The induction will occur on April 11, 2014.
Harry S. Truman, John C. “Jack” Danforth and Dr. M. Donald Suggs were selected by a committee of 12 for induction during Missouri State University’s annual Public Affairs Conference. They were chosen as citizens with a connection to the state of Missouri who serve as examples of global citizens who define the true essence of public affairs, and act consistently for the benefit of others. Up to six recipients will be honored annually, with each induction class including up to one legacy award, which is being awarded to Truman this year.
“What an outstanding group of individuals for our first inductees into the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame,” said Missouri State President Clifton M. Smart III. “They represent a wide range of interests and careers, but they have one thing in common: They exemplify what we mean when we talk about living the public affairs mission. I know these inductees, and those who follow, will inspire our students as well as other Missouri citizens.”
Danforth and Suggs will be at the induction ceremony April 11. Clifton Truman Daniel, Truman’s grandson, will be present to accept the award on behalf of his grandfather. Jennifer Davidson, senior reporter for Missouri State public radio station KSMU, will emcee the dinner.
The induction ceremonies will be at the Oasis Convention Center in Springfield. The black-tie dinner event will take place from 5-8 p.m. April 11. Tickets are $35 and go on sale Jan. 13, 2014. Strong-Garner-Bauer Law Firm is the official sponsor of the dinner.
Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar in 1884 and grew up in Independence. In 1944 Truman was chosen to be President Roosevelt’s running mate, but served as vice president for only a brief period when Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. President Truman’s years in the White House ended in January 1953, when he returned to Independence.
As president, Truman made some of the crucial decisions in recent American history. After Japan rejected pleas by the Allies to surrender, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and shortly thereafter, Japan surrendered and World War II ended. In June 1945, Truman oversaw the signing of the charter of the United Nations to establish a framework for future peacekeeping efforts. When the military forces of communist North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950, Truman ordered American troops to defend South Korea and its infant democracy. He orchestrated efforts at the United Nations to support a multi-national force to preserve South Korea’s independence, while avoiding a major conflict with China.
On the domestic front, President Truman presented a 21-point program that proposed the expansion of Social Security, promoted full employment, proposed fair employment practices legislation and initiated plans to improve public housing and clear slums. In addition to his extensive public record, it is well known that after he left the White House he supported a “good neighbor policy” to bring peace and understanding to all peoples of the world by improving educational opportunities.
Former United States Senator John C. “Jack” Danforth is a partner with the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP. In 2004, Danforth represented the United States as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations where he focused on ending the North/South civil war in Sudan, a 20-year conflict that killed two million people and displaced five million others. President George W. Bush appointed Danforth as Special Envoy to Sudan in 2001. A peace agreement between the two sides was ultimately signed in Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 9, 2005. Danforth represented the State of Missouri in the United States Senate for 18 years. Prior to his retirement from the Senate at the end of 1994, Danforth served on three key committees: the Committee on Finance; Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; and the Select Committee on Intelligence. His major legislative initiatives were in the areas of international trade, telecommunications, health care, research and development, transportation and civil rights.
From 1997-2011, Danforth was chairman of the Danforth Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on strengthening the St. Louis metropolitan area. Additionally, Danforth serves on the boards of Cerner Corporation and Greenhill and Co. He has authored two books: “Resurrection” and “Faith and Politics.” Danforth began his political career in 1968, when he was elected attorney general of Missouri, his first race for public office. He was re-elected to the post in 1972. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976 and re-elected in 1982 and 1988.
Dr. Donald M. Suggs graduated with B.S. and D.D.S. Degrees from Indiana University, completing his post-graduate work at Washington University Dental School and Homer G. Phillips Hospital. He served as chief of oral surgery at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and was the first African American to serve as an associate clinical professor at St. Louis University Dental School. Active in the civil rights movement in the 60s and 70s, he served as chairman of the Poor People’s March-On-Washington in 1968. Later, he became founder and chairman of the African Continuum, organized to bring serious non-commercial African-American artistic endeavors to St. Louis.
Suggs was a long-time president of the Alexander-Suggs Gallery of African Art based in St. Louis and New York City (1970-89). He is a founding member of the Center for African Art, (now the Museum of African Art in New York City) and a former member of the board of directors of the Studio Museum in New York. Suggs currently serves on the St. Louis Art Museum Board of Commissioners and its Collections Committee. He was the first African American to serve as president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of St. Louis. Suggs has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Washington University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Harris-Stowe State University and Saint Louis University. He is publisher and executive editor of the St. Louis American Newspaper, Missouri’s largest weekly newspaper.
Visit the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame website for more information.