Lloyd Lionel Gaines was born in 1911 in Water Valley, Mississippi. He was the one out of eleven children born into the Gaines family. Lloyd was a great academic, he went on to be the class valedictorian at Vashon High School. Lloyd participated in was essay writing college and won a scholarship for college, attending Lincoln University. He received his bachelor’s degree in history.
In 1936, Lloyd applied to University of Missouri School of Law, but was denied because of his race. The Missouri Constitution called for segregated education of the races. The law required Missouri to send Lloyd to school outside of his home town. Lloyd, however was determined to attend the school in his home town. Lloyd reached out to the NAACP to help him fight the separate by equal laws that the NAACP had experience with and had successfully overcome such laws.
In 1938, Lloyd won the Gaines v. Canada. He case paved the way for similar cases like his to be heard and won. Most notably, was Brown v. Board of Education, which made it illegal to segregate public schools.
March 1939, Lloyd Gaines was never seen again. His last known whereabouts was in Chicago. He fought so hard to attend law school, but never got the chance to attend. He was 28 years old at the time of his disappearance.
Lloyd’s family never requested he be declared dead. There were many rumors going on around the time of his disappearance, some saying he went into hiding, was bribed, committed suicide, and that he was killed. The family hoped that he just left due to the pressure. In 1999, the family had a monument erected in a cemetery in Missouri.
The University of Missouri started a scholarship in Lloyd’s name in 1995. Even though he never was admitted as a student they wanted to recognize him for his part in making history. In the school law building, Lloyd portrait hangs in a prominent place. The Missouri state bar granted him an honorary law license.