Joyce Best Named 2019 Ethics in Action Awardee

Lifelong Activist Joyce Best has been named the 2019 Ethical Society of St. Louis Ethics in Action Awardee.

“Our congregation is filled with exceptional, activist humanists,” Best said of the Ethical Society. “Previous winners include many of my friends and mentors. I am deeply honored to receive this award.”

Best and her husband, Steve Best, worked together for many years on various social causes. Their family aspired to live as Ethical Humanists concerned about racial equality, peace and justice.

Lifelong Activist and Ethical Society of St. Louis Member Joyce Best has been named the 2019 Ethical Society of St. Louis Ethics in Action Awardee.

“Joyce was an active member of the Committee on Racial Equality and was featured in the recent Missouri History Museum’s exhibit on the civil rights movement in St. Louis,” Ethical Society Leader Kate Lovelady said. “She participated in sit-ins and other interracial actions, including helping to form the Freedom of Residence group in St. Louis, and, with her husband, acting as a ‘straw buyer’ to allow a black family to buy a house in a non-integrated neighborhood.”

Best was active in Mothers and Children Together, which sponsored visits of children with mothers in prison. She also lived out her ideals in her family life, living in an integrated four-family flat in north St. Louis and sending her children to local public schools.

In her profession as a librarian, she helped establish a library at the Pruitt Igoe housing project. She is a long-time active member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and with that group she helped establish a children’s peace camp in U City, planning and administrating the camp and working there each day as a volunteer for several summers.

Best also locally coordinates the national Jane Addams Book Award, which recognizes children’s books that promote interracial harmony and world peace.

Best’s Ethical Society work includes serving on the Board of Trustees, and years of active participation in the Sunday School, including as volunteer director; in many committees, notably the Ethical Action Committee, and single-handedly administering the Gilpin Fund utility assistance program; and in the Tuesday Women’s Association, including being president and co-president, chairing the international lecture series, and currently continuing to organize the monthly book reviews.

“She also continues to be a strong and consistent voice of conscience at the Society, making sure we are investing in socially-screened mutual funds, for instance,” Lovelady said.

The Ethics in Action Award includes a monetary stipend. The ceremony honoring Best will take place Sunday, October 6, at 11 a.m. at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, which is located at 9001 Clayton Road. There is ample parking behind the building.

For more than 40 years, the Ethical Society of St. Louis has honored compassionate leaders in St. Louis, who try to help the powerless and bring hope and positive change, with the Ethics in Action Award.

To learn more about the Ethical Society of St. Louis, visit