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Poll: State Of Race Relations In St. Louis

The book St. Louis Day-By-Day by  Frances Hurd Stadler is fascinating, the entry for January 13th tells a chilling story from 175 years ago:

ABOVE: The old Courthouse in September 2011
ABOVE: The old Courthouse in September 2011

Nathan Brown, newly arrived in St. Louis, wrote to his brother in the East, relating: “I witnessed the sale today by auction of a very interesting young negro boy, 15 years old — sold for $457-1/2. The little fellow was exhibited on the table the same as any other article — and examined by being made to walk back and forth, & by feeling his joints as one would examine a horse. The little fellow appeared to realize his condition and when the big tear rolled down his cheek would merely brush it aside and hold his head up with an air & manner which won him the sympathies of a great number of the spectators. I certainly never have seen a more submissive imploring look than he exhibited as soon as he was sold; his feelings were vented in floods of tears.” While some slave auctions –usually those held to settle estates–took place on the steps of the Old Courthouse, most sales were effected by private dealers who kept notorious slave pens. Ironically, one of these  served as a federal prison during the Civil War.

According to this inflation calculator $457.50 in 1838 is equal to $9,515.96 in 2011 dollars. Wow, for a person! We’ve come a long way in the 175 years since but I don’t think we’re where we need to be.

The poll question this week asks your view on the state of race relations in St. Louis. Improving? Declining? Holding Steady? The poll question is in the right sidebar and the provided answers are presented in a random order.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. guest says:

    I think you should have these choices – “good”, “bad”, “about the same”, “okay on my block”, “hard to generalize”, “made worse by this mayoral election”, “made better by this mayoral election”, “better in the city than in the suburbs”, “good north, bad south”, “bad north, good south”, etc. The question is far more complex than suggested by the list of choices in the poll.

    • moe says:

      It is very very complex and a survey will do nothing to but touch on the problem. However, I don’t think this mayorial election has anything to do with today’s current race relations. These problems have been brewing since St. Louis was founded and before. The Civil War made them worse, and now they are buried deep down inside the psyche of St. Louis ( and across this country as indicated by the past two presidential elections). I think the solution lies in all of us being more aware that regardless of race, sex, or whatever, we are all pink on the inside.

      • guest says:

        Disagree. Watch what this election does to race relations in STL. Could those be the clouds with a chance of showers? I dare say that the 2013 STL elections might indeed be the reason why Urban Review brought this issue to its readers.

  2. Eric says:

    Cloudy with a chance of showers

  3. Progressive Causes says:

    Am I reading this right? The observation of Steve Patterson is that we have come a long way
    because the value of an enslaved human being is worth more today than it
    was in 1838? Seriously?

    This post and the poll questions attempting to get a “bead” on the state of S. Louis race relations
    demonstrate a profound inability to articulate the issue accurately as well as an inability to gather useful data.

    • You’re reading if very wrong. We’ve come a long way because of selling African-Americans like you would a desk we’ve elected them to all offices in the land.

      • Progressive Causes says:

        My question was rhetorical. And I didn’t read it wrong.

        Indeed, your “explanation” underscores my point. In addition your response demonstrates that you have little knowledge on the issue of enslavement. First of all, none of the words that you used in your initial statement include “elected” “offices” or even “desk” the only thing that you write is about is the increased value of enslaved people and descendents of enslaved people.

        I understand attempting to clean your observation up now that you have be made aware of how it reads and what it actually states. But the best way to do that is to be honest…you should have written that you made a mistake.

        Secondly no “African-Americans” were ever sold. There was no such thing as an African American during the time of codified enslavement. Africans enslaved by white slavers and the descendants of enslaved Africans were never ever citizens (therefore not Americans)….indeed they were deemed by these racist slavers to be non human and removed from humanity. Please take some time and study the complete history of our country.

  4. guest says:

    Well look at it from this perspective. This opinion is taken from life experiences in the metro area and from watching the local daily news the last 15 years. If a black person were to walk alone in a meth infested trailer parks in Jefferson county or Arnold (almost 100% white), he may have a couple of slurs thrown his way at worst. If a white person were to walk alone in many neighborhoods in north or east St Louis (almost 100% black), chances are high that he will be assaulted violently. It could be an indication for which side the hatred is emanating from… Interracial crime statistics could also assist in this theory but I’m not sure St Louis city or county tack those.

    • Really? I’m as pasty white as you can get. In the early 90s I moved into north St. Louis. In the late 90s I commuted by bike from south city to work at Union & I-70 a few days each week and in the last five years I’ve spent time in north city neighborhoods from a wheelchair. I’ve never been the victim of any violence.
      Your view is part of the problem we face.

    • moe says:

      Say what????? So if I’m black and I head to Arnold or where ever the only thing I have to worry about is a few racial slurs? Well that just makes everything hunky dory. And as a gay man, what can I expect? I will tell you I would feel safer in north St. Louis AND East St. Louis than in your parts of the woods.
      And by the way Steve….have you noticed that those with something meaningful to say sign their name and not some ghost? That alone says a lot.

      • guest says:

        You are very naive (or lacking street smarts) if you think you are safer walking alone in east st louis. Do you even pay attention to the local news? I can think of some recent violent interracial incidents in the metro off the top of my head. Megan Boken, Gina Stallis, the numerous knockout game victims, violent random assaults at metro link stations, Mike Dolan, ect.. Im sure I could find plenty more if I looked. Not a single black on white violent crime that I recall seeing. Im sure it happens but its exceedingly rare compared. Point is if all the hate and violence is coming from one side of the fence, that indicates where the animosity is held and damages progress in race relations.

        • Will Fru says:

          Megan Boken was shot in the Central West End. Gina Stallis was shot in LaSalle Park. The bulk of the knockout game attacks have been on the south side. Mike Dolan was shot at a sports bar downtown. None of these are on the north side or in East St. Louis.

        • guest says:

          Do you mean “not a single ‘white on black’ crime”? To suggest that the rate of black on white crimes is somehow an indicator of race relations in St. Louis is truly amazing. Most crime in the city is black on black. The few white victims of black on white crime pale in comparison to the staggering number of victims of black on black crime. Would anyone of sound mind suggest that crime rates have anything to do with race relations?

    • Eric says:

      The vast majority of the people assaulted by black criminals are themselves black. It’s a social problem, not a racial one.

  5. William Kruse says:

    @progressivecauses:disqus , I think you need a lesson in reading comprehension. As to the rest of the post, I cringe every time I go back to St. Louis. I loved my hometown, but the racial tension there is god-awful.


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