Ferguson Missouri History
Ferguson, Missouri, has been at the center of national media attention since August, when a white police officer killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Protests continue, and the region now awaits a grand jury's decision on whether to indict the officer. Protesters took to the streets again in Ferguson, Missouri, on Tuesday as community members searched for answers after a police officer allegedly killed the unarmed 18-year-old teenager during a fight over the weekend. In the coming days, a Missouri jury will decide whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who is responsible for the fatal shooting of the teenager.
The grand jury will consist of three black and nine white jurors, roughly the racial makeup of St. Louis County.
Then there is St. Louis County, which surrounds the city and includes many of its suburbs, including Ferguson, the county's largest city with about 1.5 million residents. Many of these small, fragmented communities are also often referred to as suburbs of growing poverty. Ferguson is one of them but the situation there is really not like that, "he says. The city itself is most famous as the site of the first black president John F. Kennedy and the US Supreme Court.
My own understanding of what happened in Ferguson comes from the experience I gained in the campaign north of St. Louis City. I'm not saying it's a story of contagious shootings, which is another matter. Ferguson is not simply a "racial story," but an important part of a larger story about race in the United States as a whole and the state of the country.
When Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August, I suspected that state, federal, and local politics were marginalizing St. Louis County in the same way that so many other metropolitan areas do. If you look at the history of the city and other suburbs in other parts of Missouri and the United States, you can confirm that it is no different. The development of the old Ferguson West has continued, with the exception of a few years in recent years, seemingly unabated.
After the Civil War ended, the booming city of St. Louis became a haven for many African Americans seeking relief from Jim Crow's perversion in the South. But many stopped settling in St. Louis, starting with the white-dominated power establishment and the state and federal governments.
Ferguson, to take a similar example, is part of the economically declining inner ring of St. Louis suburbs that were once predominantly white but are now predominantly black, as African Americans along the lines of color have been driven from their homes and whites have fled. Media reports of how Ferguson became Ferguson typically explain that when African Americans moved to suburbs other than Ferguson, whites fled and the city was left to them as they tried to escape the poor schools and the city. The city's high crime rate and lack of affordable housing have further exacerbated racial polarization.
Another dimension is that the St. Louis City area where Ferguson exists has historically been a national laboratory for segregation in housing. Kinloch, a white middle-class district that also borders Ferguson, was once in unincorporated St. Louis County. White neighborhoods formed the city of Berkeley, with white neighborhoods and schools separated from the city. This arrangement continued into the late 1960 "s, when Williams moved to Ferguson and a federal court ordered Berkeley and Ferguson (and other white cities) to integrate into a common district, the Kin Loch School District, under the Civil Rights Act.
Missouri National Guard soldiers arrived in Ferguson after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lifted the curfew imposed. Ferguson and St. Louis County were replaced by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, with images of the protests showing officers driving in armored vehicles and pointing assault rifles at protesters. When a reporter asked him on November 17 to "buck the police" of the protests, he pointed to his own police department's response to the unrest.
The project preserved an important piece of Ferguson history and created a new business and visitor attraction that served as an anchor for downtown Ferguson. The project was made possible by Emerson Electric Company, based in Ferguson, and St. Louis County Economic Development Corporation (STEDC). The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri State Highway Patrol also provided valuable assistance in the construction of the city's new police station, the Ferguson Police Department.
The history of race relations in St. Louis is complicated and difficult to deal with properly in this column. Suffice it to say that there are two important Supreme Court cases dealing with the racial division that has arisen in the region. I would respectfully suggest that we focus on looking at Ferguson and Missouri through the broader prism of civil rights. The conditions created in Ferguson must be addressed to eliminate the public policies that have divided the metropolitan landscape.