Ferguson’s Present & St. Louis’ History Of Racism

In 1949, St. Louis, Mo. had over 80,000 families living in 19th century dilapidated tenements. President Truman’s Housing Act of 1949 (all underlined words are links) allocated funds for 810,000 public housing units throughout America.  White returning World War II servicemen and their families were fleeing to the developing suburbs, while Black African American returning servicemen were being “redlined” into the “ghettos.”

Even today, America is still a divided and segregated country along racial lines and these lines of demarcation are either Black or White. I have spoken to many White Americans and many (not all) believe Officer Darren Wilson is innocent of murdering Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and only guilty of self-defense.  On the other hand, all of the Black African Americans (and some White Americans) whom I have spoken with see Michael Brown as a victim of wanton police brutality and Officer Darren Wilson as a murderer, including myself.

In spite of all of us being privy to the same information, there is a Black side and a White side and it is highly probable that justice will not play a part in the outcome of Michael Brown’s death, because it will boil down to only race.  Historically, too many White American law enforcement officers have legally gotten away with committing murder and mayhem when their victims were non-White.

According to the information I have read, Michael Brown was initially involved in an altercation with Officer Darren Wilson while Officer Wilson was sitting inside of his patrol car and Officer Wilson may have shot him once inside of the car.  All of the subsequent bullet wounds that was inflicted on Michael Brown occurred some distance away from both Officer Darren Wilson and his patrol car.  With this being the case, Officer Darren Wilson had absolutely no legal justification for continuing to shoot Michael Brown, who was unarmed because Michael Brown was no longer in close enough proximity to further pose a physical threat to Officer Darren Wilson.  Futhermore, numerous witnesses said Michael Brown’s hands were raised, indicating he was surrendering.

Many White Americans have told me that Officer Wilson was absolutely within his rights to defend himself and I am in complete agreement with them.  Again, once Michael Brown had distanced himself from Officer Wilson, he no longer posed a threat and all further shooting by Officer Wilson was solely due to Officer Darren Wilson’s emotional and mental state and not justifiable nor lawful.

I ask everyone who has an opinion regarding this tragedy, to honestly flip the script and see Officer Darren Wilson as a Black African American police officer and Michael Brown as a White American citizen.  Everything else remaining the same, how many of you would have a different opinion about this tragic situation?  As for me, I can honestly say that once a citizen no longer poses a physical threat to a law enforcement person, or other citizens, there is absolutely no justification for the use of lethal force, regardless of race.

To understand the subsequent rioting in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s murder, we must go back in time to the creation of the “Home Owners’ Loan Corporation” in 1933, to assist only White Americans in purchasing homes.  The core concept of this agency was to ensure neighborhoods remained segregated through the practice of redlining.  The banks would literally use a red marker to draw a circle around the ghettos and slums and restrict housing loans in these communities to Black African Americans only.  In fact, White Americans could not get a loan to buy a home in neighborhoods designated for Black African Americans even if they wanted to.

The practice of redlining continued when the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created.”  Records reveal that 98% of all FHA loans issued between 1934 and 1962 went to White borrowers only.  Put another way, the Federal Housing Administration only loaned 2% out of 100% of both White and Black African American taxpayers’ money to Black African Americans and those 2% were restricted to purchasing homes only in the ghetto.

Nothing changed with the end of World War II and the creation of the GI Bill.  The GI Bill allowed White Veterans to borrow money under the GI Bill to buy suburban homes, while denying the same rights to Black African American Veterans.  In fact, our Federal government entered into a covenant with local White governments to, forcefully relocate Black African Americans from land desired by White Americans.  Once the Black African Americans were removed from their communities, our government bulldozed the entire community, and rebuilt new homes for “Whites only.”  Our government then relocated the former Black African American residents to inner city slums, where our government with a racist and paternalistic attitude, built public housing projects for them as well as impoverished White Americans.

Pruitt Igoe ScreeningI recently watched the documentary, The Pruitt Igoe Myth which depicted the rise and fall (literally) of the first housing project in St. Louis, Missouri, which was painfully informative for me. This documentary explains the perpetuation of institutionalized racism in St. Louis, as well as the rest of America’s cities and the continuation of negative racial stereotypes and attitudes.  You may also want to see the documentary, “Spanish Lake-Race, Class, and White Flight in Missouri.”

On paper, Pruitt Igoe Housing Projects was the best housing project in America, (the architect was Minoru Yamasaki who also built the World Trade Center twin towers) while in actuality it was an utter nightmare for the residents.  The federal government spent $36 million dollars in the construction of Pruitt Igoe, yet neglected to spend a dime in the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings.

Pruitt Igoe was the largest public housing project in St. Louis, Mo.  There were 33 eleven-story apartment buildings in this housing project, consisting of 2,870 housing units, ranging from 1-5 bedrooms.  When the construction began in 1952, there were immediate problems.  This construction project went significantly over budget due to graft and corruption, resulting in grossly inferior craftsmanship.  In spite of the shoddy construction, the Pruitt Igoe housing project was completed in 1955 and began occupancy.

As the residents began moving in, they immediately encountered the nightmare of inferior construction with significant failures in the elevators.  Can you imagine having to walk from the first to eleventh floor on a daily basis?  You must be mindful that each floor you walk up or down consists of two flights of stairs, totaling 22 flights of stairs going up and down if you lived on the eleventh floor.

In 1968, my family and I had a similar experience with the elevators when we moved into a brand new housing project located at 18th & Morris Street in Philadelphia, Pa. We lived on the 11th floor, and within a matter of weeks, we experienced numerous problems with the elevators. Many days and nights we would have to walk the twenty-two flights of stairs, carrying whatever groceries or packages we had. I assure you all; this was a very depressing and humiliating experience.

Winter IceTenant rents were to be the only source of financing for the maintenance and upkeep of Pruitt Igoe’s buildings once the occupancy was high, which only reached 90% occupancy at its peak.  However, when the vacancy rates increased, coupled with a very high number of unemployed tenants, there was absolutely no funds for the most basic of maintenance, resulting in the dramatic deterioration of the poorly constructed buildings.  During the winter months, freezing pipes would burst, and it became normal for apartments to be flooded (as in the above photo) with both water and raw sewage.  It was also common for the tenants not to have running water or heat during the St. Louis winters, coupled with broken elevators and incinerators, creating horrendous living conditions.

Initially, Pruitt Igoe housing projects was built to house both races of working poor with the individual buildings being segregated by race.  The Black African Americans were restricted to living in the Pruitt buildings, while the White Americans were restricted to living in the Igoe buildings.  The naming of these buildings was to honor a Black African American Tuskegee Aviator, William O. Pruitt and a White Missouri Congressman William Leo Igoe.

When integration began, Whites started moving out of the Pruitt Igoe housing projects immediately and into the newly created suburbs, thanks to HUD loans, which were exclusively for Whites only.  To make matters worse, many of the working Black African American families also moved out of Pruitt Igoe, leaving only impoverished Black African American residents remaining. Consequently, the remaining poor Black African American fathers were forced to desert their families because they were not allowed to live with their families who were receiving welfare benefits in Pruitt Igoe.

Pruitt Igoe NightmareSince the Black African American fathers were not allowed to live with their families in Pruitt Igoe, by 1965, 2/3 of Pruitt Igoe residents were minor children with only 38% of the mothers working.  Crime and vandalism became rampant and because of the faulty construction and lack of maintenance, many buildings became uninhabitable.  By 1969, conditions had deteriorated so badly, the remaining tenants staged a nine-month rent strike, which was the first such strike in the history of American public housing.

From the early 1930s to the 1980s, the population of St. Louis was reduced from over 800,000 to slightly more than 400,000, thanks to HUD building affordable housing for “Whites only” in suburbia.  With “White Flight” also went the jobs, resulting in a blighted inner-city.  Beginning in the 1960s, St. Louis had too many houses and too little money, resulting in the majority of the remaining residents in these housing projects being single mothers because as previously stated, the city would not pay welfare benefits for Black African American intact families to live in housing projects.

Yet, HUD and FHA would pay welfare benefits in the form of low-interest loans for White American intact families to move to the suburbs and buy luxurious homes with beautiful parks and recreational facilities that were for “Whites only.”  These White suburbanites had access to pristine parks and recreational areas, while the impoverished residents of the housing projects were trapped in rat and roach infested blighted communities.

St Louis lost its tax base due to “White-Flight” and suburban growth, resulting in no available funds for basic maintenance in these housing projects, so the maintenance went undone.  Occupancy peaked in 1957 at 90% and immediately began spiraling downward. The elevators quit working entirely and poor ventilation marked the total decline of this supposed utopia.  By 1970, there was only 70% occupancy and the first building was demolished in 1972.  Pruitt-Igoe is a prime example of the failure of Public Housing throughout America.  The 57-acre site continues to remain vacant and overgrown today.

After Pruitt Igoe was demolished, many of the former residents were given Section 8 vouchers, which they used to relocate to Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb.  In 2000, the racial composition of Ferguson was approximately 52% Black African American and 44% White Americans.  Today it is close to 70% Black African American, while the political structure consists of a White Mayor and 5 of the 6 council members are also White.  There is only 1 Black African American council member and only 3 of the 56 police officers are Black African Americans.  Furthermore, St. Louis and surrounding areas has a lengthy history of KKK activities.

In Nikole Hannah-Jones’ book, “Living Apart: How The Government Betrayed A Landmark Civil Rights Law” she writes about President Nixon and all subsequent American presidents being complicit in the creation and maintenance of America’s apartheid.

Nikole tells us that George Romney (Mitt Romney’s father) was the Secretary of HUD under President Nixon.  With the passing of the “1968 Fair Housing Act,” Secretary Romney devised a plan to “Remake America’s housing patterns, which he described as a high-income white noose around the black inner city.  The passage of Title VIII of the 1968 Fair Housing Act directed the government to affirmatively further fair housing.” (Pg 5 of my Kindle book)

Secretary Romney felt this act gave him broad powers to dismantle the all White neighborhoods by compelling them to build affordable housing and dismantle their restrictive covenants and zoning, which will end their racially discriminatory practices. His tool was to reject applications for funds to provide water, sewer, and highway construction to those cities and states promoting segregated housing.

Unfortunately, he had one major problem-he neglected to get President Richard Nixon’s approval. Consequently, those cities and states impacted by Romney’s “Open Communities” program, immediately began lobbying President Nixon, who intervened without haste, writing a memo to John Ehlirchman, saying, “Stop this one.”  Nikole went on to say, “In a 1972 eyes only memo to Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman, another aide, Nixon explained his position.  I am convinced that while legal segregation is totally wrong that forced integration of housing or education is just as wrong.” (pg. 14 of my Kindle book).

President Nixon knew all too well the ramifications of his actions and he said, “I realize that this position will lead us to a situation in which blacks will continue to live for the most part in black neighborhoods and where there will be predominately black schools and predominately white schools.” (pg. 14 of my Kindle book).

Secretary Romney was adamant about his position because he recognized that the primary causes of the riots of the 60s were a direct result of forcing Black African Americans to live in the inner city slums.  He said, “Equal opportunity for all Americans in education and housing is essential if we are going to keep our nation from being torn apart.”  Sadly, all of his logic and reasoning fell on a death ear as President Nixon terminated his programs and eventually forced Secretary Romney to resign.

There is karma in the universe that says, “What goes around; comes around.”  In spite of President Nixon’s admonitions in 1973 that, “I am not a crook,” he became the first president in American history to resign in disgrace for being a “crook” on August 8, 1974Tragically, every president since Nixon concurred with his plans to maintain segregated and blighted ghettos for the sole purpose of keeping Black African Americans perpetually imprisoned in poverty and despair.

As Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote, “Nixon’s vision for America largely came to pass and the costs have been steep.  More than 20 years of research has implicated residential segregation in virtually every aspect of racial inequality, from higher unemployment rates for African Americans, to poorer health care, to elevated infant mortality rates and, most of all, to inferior schools.” (page 27 of my kindle book)

Since 1974, HUD has given more than $137 billion dollars of our tax dollars to blatantly segregated White communities, which is in total violation of HUD’s policies and no one has dared to challenge either, the communities, nor HUD. In fact, HUD has sent monies to these racially segregated White communities in spite of court rulings charging these communities with promoting segregated housing.

It took our government less than 60 years to completely segregate every major city in America, with the Northern cities being the most segregated.  Our government forced Black African Americans into these slums and ghettoes, reducing them to living like animals, then had the audacity to call them “f..king animals” for protesting against this inhumane treatment.

The Kerner Commission’s report on why the riots of the 1960s had occurred stated, “The United States was moving toward two societies, one black, one white-separate and unequal.”  They concluded that housing segregation was the primary cause of the riots of the 1960s.

On paper, Title VIII of the 1968 Fair Housing Act was a grand plan, yet, in reality, it is nothing more than a joke.  No, it is worst than a joke; it is grand theft because Black African American tax dollars are being used to promulgate and enforce our own racial discrimination.  Yes, it is truly “taxation without representation,” and none of our elected officials, especially, the Congressional Black Caucus is doing anything to correct it.  American tax dollars can rebuild Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous other countries, while at the same time our Black and Brown citizens are forced to live in blighted cities and neighborhoods comparable to those in “third world” countries.

Oh, what a blessing it is that my people do not read, think or use common sense says the Pastors, Pimps and Politicians.

2 thoughts on “Ferguson’s Present & St. Louis’ History Of Racism

  1. Stl Mo is still segregated and racism is still here. So yes I blame the Uncle Toms that knowingly do they own race in, and the dirty Under Cover KKK politicians and dirty police officers. The new Housing scam is still being pushed by STL HUD COMISSSIONER OFFICE —Habitat for Humanity This legal racket allow these thieves to line their pockets with millions and build the shittiest houses for the working poor and act as though they saved the world. Take a survey of how many people leave THESE ILL BUILT CRAP HOLMES with faulty roofs,foundation issues, and plumbing problems. I bet it’s many. With all the money they get they use the cheapest/worst companies to do the job, then smile on the news with a family that don’t have a clue they’re being screwed with a house that crooks built. Oh yes they are smiling all the way to the bank.

    • Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. As long as we play the “Blame Game,” it robs us of all of our power. The dominant society has a vested interest in our “Blaming” them because it empowers them, because our growth is now predicated on their changing. We must become the change that we want to see happen instead of begging our oppressors to change! Like every Black African American community, Stl Mo still has horrendous amounts of murders, drugs and all other forms of violent crimes committed by Black African Americans on other Black African Americans. Before we can empower ourselves, we must first stop hurting ourselves. Before we can love people that look like us, we must first love that person in our mirrors. Love is a “verb” and not a “noun.” Continue reading my posts and sharing your thoughts. Remember, “Each One, Teach One!”

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