Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Stolen Laptop and a Teachable Moment




“Mr. Brown, we have a problem.”

It was the kind of call, I dread. Leslie Gill, CEO of Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center was on the line.  The social service agency has allowed the Sweet Potato Project to hold classes on its premises. It was Tuesday and we had just wrapped up our day with a visit to a social engineering firm in midtown St. Louis. Thankfully, I have three senior students and an intern with vehicles. So we usually split the group up and have made frequent trips throughout the summer. 

There were three students in my car when Gill called. Apparently another three had returned to Annie Malone. That wasn’t unusual, some go back to the center to retrieve their belongings or to get picked up by a parent or friend.

“Someone stole a laptop from the office next to your classroom,” Gil went on. “She left her office for about 15 minutes and there were only three of your kids here at the time.”

Damnit! In six years of operating the program, I’ve only had one similar incident. A kid stole a volunteer’s cell phone from the Catholic school pantry where we held classes at that time. The student eventually fessed up and we worked out a situation where he could redeem himself by working a week for free in the pantry. It worked out. the young man and I still chat every now and then. But the initial feelings of betrayal and lost trust was something I never wanted to experience again.

Those feelings returned after I heard about the stolen laptop. Of the three suspected students, I instantly knew the culprit. He’s often late, he makes up excuses to miss or step outside class. I’ve had to talk to him about his work ethic.

Still, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, there were two other possible suspects, one boy and one girl. I sweated bullets that night grappling with the best way to get the thief to fess up, return the stolen item and rebuild trust for our program.

“I told you all a few weeks ago, that two things I can’t stand and will not tolerate is a thief and a liar,” I said surrounded by the students that Wednesday morning.

When I went into detail, the students became as angry as me. 

“Aw, man, whoever it was makes us all look bad,” one student responded. “Exactly,” I continued. “One of you did it and perhaps one or two more know who did it. This is unacceptable and we have to make this right.”

Everybody, including the kid I suspected, swore they knew nothing about the laptop. I told them the police had been called, they took fingerprints so the culprit might as well confess. I was embarrassed as hell when two Annie Malone staff members came into the class to talk about the ramifications of stealing their property. The workers explained that the matter would be dropped if the laptop was returned. The thief had until the next day (Thursday) to bring the laptop back or there would be hell to pay.

One of my senior students, Marquita, asked if she could call out the bandit. She suspected the same student as I, in fact, most of the students did. I told her “no,” the kid had until the next day to confess and redeem himself.

My funky mood intensified that evening. To be honest, I was hurt. This has been a good year for the Sweet Potato Project. A nice donation from David Steward of World Wide Technology, Inc. allowed me to focus on the kids and not spend every summer day trying to raise money to pay them, like the past two years. It’s been a pure joy working with this group. Yeah, some have real problems, a couple are rock heads or jokesters but they were opening up. Their essays about the things they’ve learned, the entrepreneurs and professionals they’ve met and our conversations about reclaiming and revitalizing disadvantaged neighborhoods had given me (as corny as it may sound) hope.

You see, I have the honor of working with young people who live the reality behind sensationalized headlines or soul-crushing stereotypes. Most know poverty, most have lost a loved one to senseless violence or treatable illnesses. Most are children who've been hardened by broken educational, criminal justice and economic systems. They’re ability to navigate chaos while still dreaming big dreams simply amazes and humbles me.

I had the kids submit sentences or paragraphs for a collective student pledge. Their creative use of the words “unity, dignity, community and self-sufficiency” had convinced that they get it, that they’re open to the impossible. For me, the pledge and our mission had been sullied by this one deceitful act. The fact that we might not be trusted in the building angered me immensely.


Their creative use of the words “unity, dignity, community and self-sufficiency” had convinced that they get it, that they’re open to the impossible.

I dreaded the next day even more. Nobody was going to admit anything, I suspected. By morning, I had decided that the whole class would have to chip in to replace the computer and I’d fire the suspected thief, even if he didn’t confess.

As I walked into the center Thursday morning, the receptionist motioned me into his office. As I opened the door, he pointed to a laptop on his desk. He told me the name of a female student who had returned it. She came to class early, he said, remorseful and crying. Something in her soul, he said, repeating her words, compelled her to return the computer. She also told him she would not be returning to class. She was too ashamed.

I was floored. I’d heard the student had issues at home but she seemed so attentive, engaged, and personable in class. Besides, one of Annie Malone’s staffers had driven her home that day. Surely, the worker would have noticed a laptop in her possession or some sort of shady behavior.

The first thing I did Thursday morning was talk to the boy I immediately suspected of stealing the laptop. I told him the name of the real thief and apologized for indicting him. His response shamed me: “Mr. Brown, I remember that day you said you couldn’t stand thieves. I ain’t no thief!”

I thanked him for his honesty and told him why I thought he was the culprit. “This is going to happen to you again in the real world unless you step up your game and stop taking shortcuts.” He promised he would.

I was sorry to hear the offending girl was not returning. I felt she had redeemed herself.  I wanted to use the incident as a teachable moment. I’d find some way for her to pay a penance but she would not be fired.

About a half hour later a car pulled up and the girl I was told had stolen the laptop jumped out. As she headed for the front door, I called her name. She came over. I said, “thank you for returning the computer.” She looked at me as if I had cursed her mother. “Returned what…I didn’t steal anything!”

“Wait, what? I was just told that you’d came in early, dropped off the computer and apologized.” Again, I got that look. “I just got here. It wasn’t me,” she insisted.

I went back to the receptionist. He now realized he'd made a mistake. The girl who brought the laptop back was not my student. I ran upstairs but it was too late. The poor girl had already gone up to class where word had spread she was the perpetrator. She walked into a room of dirty looks and not-so-subtle indictments. I quickly made the announcement that she had been wrongly accused. Thank goodness, she seemed to understand the mishap.

We had a “neighborhood walk” scheduled along the Cherokee strip that day. My mood had improved significantly. Gil had called me upon arriving to fill me in on the details of the mysterious theft. Two girls, claiming to be new students of the Sweet Potato Project, had gone upstairs, and stolen the employee’s laptop. Whatever, it wasn’t one of my students.

Outside Red Guitar Bread on the Cherokee Strip

After we visited a couple of businesses on the strip and talked about the upswing in the neighborhood and the heavy Latino influence, I took the kids to La Vallesana restaurant and ice cream shop. “Get yourselves a snack,” I jubilantly told them. As I watched them sitting out on the veranda, chatting, writing notes, nibbling ice cream or Mexican food, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude.

They didn’t betray me. What I’ve seen in them is real, and our pledge means something after all. Everything was as it should be.

Snacks on the veranda of La Vallesana on the Cherokee Strip




Monday, July 3, 2017

The Sweet Potato Project and Sharing the Gift

Those who have followed me and my nonprofit, the Sweet Potato Project (SPP), know that I’ve written a lot about the challenges of running a grassroots program on a shoestring budget. Today, I’m not going there. Today, I feel like one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Today, I’d like to talk about this incredible gift that’s been given to me and my wish to have you share it with me.

Every summer for the past six years, I have been privileged to be in the company of urban youth, many who come from some of the most depressed areas in our region.  I have this rare opportunity to peek behind historical and social media stereotypes that label black youth as violent, out-of-control, lazy or doomed.  Every year, I am reminded that our proud history of creative survival, resilience, and faith in the unknown still percolates in our youth. Generational poverty, senseless violence, disproportionate health-related deaths, and environments devastated by decades of neglect, drugs, and prison impact their lives but they still dare to dream.

I feel like one of the luckiest guys on the planet 

SPP was birthed from frustration. For 30 years or more, I have been writing about the problems in the black community. A sad sense of voyeurism grew as I realized that I was just writing about problems and not doing anything to address them. The Sweet Potato Project is my “give-back.” In a way, I’m like a griot, an old dude who’s lived an impoverished but rich life because so many people believed in me, helped me. I am a walking, talking testament to what dreams may come if you work at it and never, ever let anyone or anything define or destroy your version of “success.”

Every week, I have this captive group of young people who, through their words and deeds, validate the need to reach them in ways that resonates with their unique culture, challenges, and desires.



Oftentimes, many of us act as if young people created our chaotic communities. Rarely do we acknowledge that they’re valiantly navigating a world that we created and/or abandoned. We, the adults, left traditional black neighborhoods and closed our businesses to chase the illusive dream of integration. We turned our youth over to broken systems (economic, educational, and criminal justice) and now scratch our heads in bewilderment as prisons swell and black lives become more and more irrelevant.

Many of us act as if young people created our chaotic communities. Rarely do we acknowledge that they’re valiantly navigating a world that we created and/or abandoned.

To be clear, poverty has a detrimental impact on any race. However, to be poor and black in a country that’s still institutionally racist is a unique burden that suffocates the dreams and aspirations of too many children of color. You can imagine how humbled I am to walk these kids through the chaos in their lives, while trying to show them a way, a path to find success and self-sufficiency by their own hands, in their own neighborhoods.

One of my senior students, Edie Adams (21), talks animatedly about her love for her “people” and her desire to own land and create jobs and opportunities for others. This year, through a partnership with St. Louis University and a small cadre of local nonprofits, we’ll hold classes on buying, leasing, and securing vacant lots in the city.  This group, operating under the banner of the “North City Food Hub (NCFH),” will also offer horticulture, culinary and entrepreneurial classes for our youth and other city residents. I am absolutely giddy with the idea that soon my students and other low-income residents can own land, grow food, and make money from food packaging and distribution.

What’s most gratifying, yet intimidating is that the youth we serve get it. Poverty, in a sense, has prepared them for the improbable. They are inherent survivors in need of direction, validation, and opportunities to work with what they have at hand. Life has not beaten them down quite yet. They respond affirmatively when we talk about reclaiming communities and providing opportunities for their peers and siblings. The great challenge is giving them the guidance and resources in a society intent on crippling their ambitions.

I am absolutely giddy with the idea that soon my students and other low-income residents can own land, grow food, and make money from food packaging and distribution.

I have many, many talented friends, followers and associates. I’ve reached out to entrepreneurs, professionals, politicians, artists, and activists, inviting them to share this gift with me. Having a degree or fitting the typical definition of “success” is not important to me or the youth we serve. “Success” doesn’t always mean you’ve made a lot of money. If you’ve survived poverty, if you’ve managed to create something, if you have a knack for words or the ability to motivate; if you possess the passion and heart to listen and learn from young people…please, share my gift.

SPP encourages students to become innovative, self-sufficient players in today’s ever-expanding global economy. We want to help young people develop entrepreneurial and personal skills to become engaged community citizens.



The videos on this page will give you a sample of what we do but there’s so much more to accomplish in the weeks ahead.  There will be lessons in financial literacy, land-ownership, entrepreneurism, the logistics and legalities of starting businesses, developing a business plan along with training in sales, marketing, branding, and food distribution. I have a curriculum brief that details these areas of study. If you, your business, or your company wish to help us, message me and I’ll send you the information.

The Sweet Potato Project encourages students to become innovative, self-sufficient players in today’s ever-expanding global economy. 

SPP is as grassroots as it gets. We’ve come this far through the grace of our supporters and volunteers. most importantly, the kids need to be connected to caring individuals, people who listen and can provide an attentive ear or needed advice. We try to get them out to different businesses, neighborhoods, and institutions. I can use a few volunteer drivers to help transport them.

In the words of Frederick Douglas, “there is no progress without struggle.” It’s been a rough road for SPP but, for me, this year feels like progress. My “give-back” is the most satisfying, gratifying and fulfilling thing I’ve done in my long career. But don’t just take my word for it. Join me and share this gift.









Thursday, May 11, 2017

Food-Based Economic Empowerment: It’s Happening in North St. Louis

It’s a humbling when a vision finally takes wings. Since 2012, the Sweet Potato Project has sought to educate youth in urban agriculture as a pathway to entrepreneurism. In brief, we show them how to plant food on vacant lots and how to market, brand and distribute food and food-based products. One of our concerns is that we can only impact our students during the summer months that they’re paid to work. After that many of our youth return to lives of social and economic chaos. To engage and inspire these urban pioneers year-round, we have to expand our mission into their environments to a point where growing, packaging and distributing fresh food is a 24/7, all-inclusive endeavor.




Well, six years later, I’m happy to report that the partners and elements are in place to create a food-based economic engine in North St. Louis. Several grassroots nonprofits, including the Sweet Potato Project, have collaborated to make sure growing food and bringing it to market is easier and do-able, particularly for low-income youth and adults. The North City Food Hub includes former staffers of St. Louis University’s Nutrition and Dietetics Department, the Greater Ville Collaborative, Good Life Growing, Annie Malone Children’s Home and HOSCO Food.  This summer, there will be a shared-use, commercial kitchen where anyone can develop food-based products under the supervision of professional chefs. Additional plans call for a café, fresh food market, home delivery food service, a culinary certification program, and sessions designed to help residents lease or own some of the vast vacant properties in the city.

  



The Sweet Potato Project’s role in this collaborative is to bring as many youth and adults into the fold as possible. My challenge is to convince ordinary people who’ve been locked out of development in North St. Louis that we can reverse that trend. We have to convince those committed to equity that the food movement is real, economic game-changer in our neighborhoods, too. We have paint a powerful picture of massive inner-city farming where land-owners grow the food and earn money from their yields of sweet potatoes and other produce. That picture should include farmer’s markets in the hood with spin-off businesses like bakeries, restaurants and bars that draw people in and generate millions like the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market. The vision must include a brand of food like Del Monte or Glory Foods that offers packaged and canned foods from land-owners in North St. Louis. These products must be of such quality that public schools, hotels, restaurants, public institutions, and a broad array of consumers are thrilled to buy knowing that they are supporting a movement of empowerment in North St. Louis.




Collaborations have been the key to current momentum.  To be truly successful, we must get politicians, city leaders and influential individuals to adopt this vision. We must encourage them to invest the same energy, creativity, and resources into this community endeavor as they’ve gifted to wealthy developers and tony neighborhoods for decades. Industrialization in St. Louis and across the nation has been on the decline for the past 50 years. But, because everybody eats and more and more people are turning to locally-grown food, there is a real opportunity to change the course of decline in North St. Louis and beyond.

Shared-Use Kitchen
Metro Food Bus



The thing I love most about the Sweet Potato Project is that it invites everyone and anyone to play a role in educating our youth and developing North St. Louis. You can help build community gardens, plant sweet potatoes, mentor young people, support the “brand” and, of course, buy food and food products lavishly and consistently.

We invite anyone and everyone to join us. Bring us your passions, skills, and talents to help us ensure that low-income youth and adults have a chance at economic empowerment, too. Fresh food can be a fresh start for long-neglected neighborhoods in our region and beyond.  Please help us take full advantage of this magic moment. Be a part of expanding and creating a food-based economic movement in North St. Louis.


-          Sylvester Brown, Jr. / Executive Director of the Sweet Potato Project

Thursday, April 27, 2017

When Clichés Come True: Sweet Potato Project 2017

Clichés like “It is always darkest before the dawn,” and “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” can be inspirational but frustrating. When you’re in the eye of the storm, you’re not exactly craving uplifting words. You’re looking for immediate relief.

 This speaks to my feelings about the past few years of my program, the Sweet Potato Project (SPP). For those not aware, we recruit “at-risk” teens (ages 16 to 21). We provide them a summer job where they plant produce on vacant or community lots. They learn horticulture, marketing, branding, product development and much more. At the end of the summer, they’re charged with turning their yield into marketable food products. To date, the kids make and sell sweet potato cookies. We teach young, urban youth how to become entrepreneurs in their own neighborhoods…today, not after they graduate college.



There was steady momentum since we started in 2012, but by 2015, we had a reversal of fortune. Funding from our traditional sources dried up. We had to cut back on the number of students we served, the program started to accumulate debt. If not for a small number of dedicated supporters and donors we would have folded last year. So this year, with no obvious hope in sight, I prepared for the inevitable; the Sweet Potato Project would have to cease operations.

If not for a small number of dedicated supporters and donors we would have folded last year. 

But then, about a month or so ago, the meaning of the clichés became relevant. I had the opportunity to sit with businessman and philanthropist, David Steward. Steward, the founder of World Wide Technology (WWT), a global technology solution provider, was one of our biggest supporters since its inception. However, we lost touch with WWT a couple years ago. The clouds lifted after Steward called recently to ask what he could do. This year, WWT and the Steward Family Foundation has more than doubled its annual gift. Of course, we need more than three times as much to operate the program effectively but today we have a much stronger start than we've had in the past three years.



We have a lot to do and very little time to do it. Last year I wrote a commentary about facing my limitations and the need to bring in more talented, committed individuals to help me take SPP to where it needs to be. Some of you responded but we were still in a state of flux. I’m re-issuing that clarion call today with the hopes that a solid group of us can make sure we can rise to the challenges of recruiting youth, planting sweet potatoes, and developing the class schedule and year-round marketing and fund-raising plans in the next 30 days.

The good news is that the urban agricultural movement is finally gaining traction in the city. During the campaign, our new mayor, Lyda Krewson, has heard from grassroots, community organizations who’ve been busting their butts to make great, progressive change in St. Louis. Mayor Krewson has voiced support for SPP. Hopefully, she will chart a new course where organizations like ours get a share of the love and resources former Mayor Slay lavished on the rich and powerful.

Hopefully, Mayor Krewson will chart a new course where organizations like ours get a share of the love and resources Slay lavished on the rich and powerful.

Additionally, a North City Food Hub will be birthed in the Greater Ville area. SPP is part of this collaborative that includes former staffers of St. Louis University’s Nutrition and Dietetics department, the Greater Ville Collaborative, Good Life Growing, Annie Malone Children’s Home and HOSCO Food.  This summer, there will be a shared-use, commercial kitchen where people can develop food-based products under the supervision of professional chefs. The plans also include a café, fresh food market, home delivery service, a culinary certification program, and sessions designed to help residents lease or own some of the vast vacant properties in the city. Through this initiative, low-income residents can grow and bring fresh food and “value-added products” to market.

For us, this translates into SPP youth having year-round opportunities to learn entrepreneurial skills and put them into practice. They will participate in a stronger food-based environment in their own neighborhoods. It means there will be a food-based economic engine in North St. Louis that reinforces land-ownership and build community pride. It will provide an exciting way for restaurants, schools, grocers, consumers, and the entire region to buy fresh, locally-grown food and products made in North St. Louis.



I am so grateful that the Sweet Potato Project still has the chance to play a part in bringing economic opportunity to long-ignored parts of our region. I am thankful that I’ll have another shot at nurturing, teaching and learning from young, brilliant but challenged youth in our city. To those who’ve stood with us or have expressed a desire to help in a variety of ways, expect to hear from me. In the next few weeks I’ll host meetings to outline volunteer opportunities and specific tasks we must undertake, quickly.  


I am so grateful that the Sweet Potato Project still has the chance to play a part in bringing economic opportunity to long-ignored parts of our region.



Today, in retrospect, I appreciate the meaning of those inspirational clichés. The clouds have parted but I know there are more storms on the horizon. No one promised this work would be easy. However, I am emboldened by the fact that good people, no matter how few, have always supported our good work. 

Thankfully, we begin another year. To the “good people” in our world, we have another shot. And, with your  help and support, we can continue the “good work.”




 DONATE



   







Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tishaura Jones and Undeniable, Unstoppable Change

Photo  by Wiley Price. Courtesy of the St.Louis American
Oh, how the obscenities flew. 

It was Tuesday, election night. I’d left candidate Tishaura Jones’ watch party in the Grove neighborhood feeling a bit hopeful. She was surging and had captured the #2 spot behind 28th Ward Alderwoman, Lyda Krewson. The wonderfully diverse and eclectic crowd were in high-spirits. We were riding high thanks to State Rep. Jamillah Nasheed’s words of encouragement. “We got this!”

Well, we didn’t. Krewson won. And, as widely predicted, the number of black candidates canceled each other out in the race. The bottom three major contenders (Antonio French, Lewis Reed and Jeffrey Boyd) garnered almost 20,000 votes between them. Jones, lost by a mere 888 votes.


Let us cry not for her. Jones did what she was supposed to do against great, stubborn, and institutionalized odds.

“Damnit!” I spat through the night. “We (meaning black folk) just gave this thing away! Why, oh why, couldn’t you (meaning the black candidates) read the tea leaves? Why didn’t you listen to those who worried about the obvious? Why wasn’t there a strategy to actually win the race?”

I’m happy I decided to wait a few days before writing anything about the contest. It took that time to change my perspective. Two days after the primary, newly-elected State Representative, Bruce Franks, announced he was going to challenge Krewson as a write-in candidate in next month’s general election.


The bottom three major contenders (Antonio French, Lewis Reed and Jeffrey Boyd) garnered almost 20,000 votes between them. Jones, lost by a mere 888 votes.

He didn’t. Franks rescinded the claim after realizing his representative seat could possibly go unfilled if he won the mayoral election. Considering that voters in his district put a lot of energy into helping Franks challenge the disproportionate absentee ballots that caused his loss to a dynasty candidate, it was probably a wise decision. Personally, I’d like to see Franks make an impact in the space he currently holds before seeking another political role.

Still, Franks’ announcement was an indication of what Jones’ campaign had accomplished. For one moment the tidal wave of progressive politics that’s been growing since the 2014 killing of Mike Brown, threatened complacent, establishment, elitist politics in our city. It would have given the almost 40,000 voters who rejected Krewson’s candidacy a dynamic do-over to accomplish what they couldn’t in the primary. It would have coalesced a broad swath of voters behind one black candidate, not four. It would have rocked the status quo by introducing a new people-powered paradigm in a backwards city in desperate need of diverse, progressive, and inclusive transformation.

We owe that wonderful possibility to Jones’ campaign which illustrated that big money and dirty, mainstream media tricks are not the obstacles they once were. Remember though, Jones victory was in the making long before she announced her bid for mayor. Democrats in this city, this state and this country have failed to recognize the simple fact that voters are sick and tired of a party that’s grown accustomed to unearned loyalty. They’ve grown nauseous of its slave-like ties to the capitalist system while resting on the tired laurels of “liberalism.”


Jones’ campaign illustrated that big money and dirty, mainstream media tricks are not the obstacles they once were. 

The party, nationally and locally, has been fractured by a huge swath of voters still seeking a Bernie Sanders-like apostle. This explains why a Bruce Franks or a Megan Ellyia-Green (15th Ward Alderwoman), or a Dan Guenther (newly-elected 9th Ward Alderman) or a Tishaura Jones could topple giants and arouse the passions of voters and supporters.

For the first time in my almost six decades of life here, a new narrative is spreading throughout the city. Thanks to a new wave of aldermen like Green and Guenther, the city’s south side is shifting from its base of predictable segregated politics. There’s new energy, new engagement, and new activism aimed at promoting true equity and age, gender and racial inclusivity.

A valuable lesson was reinforced for me during the Town Hall mayoral forum on Arts and Culture that I co-moderated with activist, De Nichols.  There, a group of stakeholders made a solid case for investing in local arts and culture that’s just as lucrative as casinos and the Ballpark Village to stabilize neighborhoods and generate local revenues. The work has already begun. With vision, the racially and culturally-eclectic Cherokee Street can become St. Louis’ version of the 24-hour entertainment-oriented Bourbon Street in New Orleans. In fact, it could be better because, unlike downtown venues where suburbanites drive in and drive out after a ballgame, locals can participate and benefit economically.


For the first time in my almost six decades of life here, a new narrative is spreading throughout the city.

Mayoral Arts & Culture Forum on Cherokee Street

The narrative of progressive prosperity is not just restricted to the south side. Because of issues raised during the mayoral campaign, north side residents are now aware that their lives and priorities have been rendered irrelevant. They know that they’ve been shafted during the past 16 years under Mayor Francis Slay. They understand that the will, creativity, and vision has actually improved already stable and already majority white neighborhoods. They are cognizant that their political representatives failed to muster the political hutzpah to improve long-neglected Northside neighborhoods while signing off on and divving up more than a billion dollars in public money to “big-box” developments in areas were the black population is dwindling or nonexistent.


Arts & Culture Forum

There is a cadre of nonprofits in the black community that are doing the hard, unappreciated work of fighting crime, educating, and employing youth, providing adult job and entrepreneur-training, building affordable housing and trying to create sustainable, food-based systems in the city. Like other arts and culture groups, we can’t wait for politics to come to us; we have to organize, strategize and take our work to the politicians. We must demand their support, and influence and force them to adopt an equitable use of tax dollars to further our community-oriented endeavors...too.

If black political leaders are wise, they will get their act together quick-like. They will never, ever allow egos or personal agendas to jeopardize the greater good. They’ll realize that just being “black” no longer equates to winning elections. Perhaps those who’ve sided with establishment politicians will turn from the no-return policy of “aldermanic courtesy.” Maybe they’ll demand something, anything for their lapdog support of publicly-subsidized stadiums, high-rise, high-end condos in high-income areas and other trickle-down adventures that only gift millionaires billions at the expense of public schools and poor people.  


If black political leaders are wise, they will get their act together. They will never, ever allow egos or personal agendas to jeopardize the greater good.     

Undeniable, unstoppable change has taken root in St. Louis. Some may not like it but the city has made history. With Krewson it has elected its first female mayor. Throughout the debates that highlighted the problems and promise of our city, my hope is that she really listened. Only Krewson can decide if she’s just going to be the city's first female mayor or a GREAT female mayor. If she fails, we know the burgeoning powers of progress will erase her legacy in just four years.

I won’t say that I’m not disappointed by the election results. A dream deferred can be a bitter reality. However, with the luxury of quiet, unemotional reflection, I am hopeful and committed. There are setbacks and challenges, distractions, and disappointments. But real, significant, life-altering dreams never die. They marinate, they resonate and then they rise when the time is right.

Only Krewson can decide if she’s just going to be the city's first female mayor or a GREAT female mayor.

Tishaura Jones is young, determined and still holds a powerful position in city government. Her future in whatever she aspires to do is solid. Let us cry not for her. She did what she was supposed to do against great, stubborn, and institutionalized odds. 

Jones' candidacy was just another needed-reminder of what dreams may come and what possibilities are on the immediate horizon…when the time is right.