#Ferguson: An American Apartheid


By the time my maternal grandparents arrived in 1932, my father’s family had already been in St. Louis some 35 years. Like those who migrated north, both before and after them, they found a city burgeoning with commerce, replete with manufacturing jobs, economic opportunities previously unknown to them. But they also found a city in turmoil, an increasingly diverse tapestry of settlers and immigrants in the midst of reconciling itself to its changing identity.

In 1917, there had been labor riots fueled by racial tensions just across the Mississippi River in neighboring East St. Louis, Illinois—a boomtown known for its cheap coal, slaughterhouses and aluminum production. With African Americans landing jobs with companies like American Steel and Aluminum Ore, job and wage security as well as rumors of race-mixing set off nearly two months of violence. That bloodstained offensive on black newcomers still stands as one of the…

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