By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By Ray Downs
By Lindsay Toler
By Village Voice Writers
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Danny Wicentowski
"I have a housing agency," says Moore of the commission. "If there's any grants to be given it goes to them. That's who has exclusive rights to develop in this community, not anyone else."
But the reality is that MLK is still deeply troubled. Last week, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Sam Dotson announced he was designating the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood, in Boyd's 22nd Ward, as a violent crime "hot spot" because of the nine fatal shootings that have occurred there since January. Moore's ward encompasses Kingsway East, where a twenty-year-old was shot in the back with an assault rifle in early April, and Kingsway West, where an eleven-year-old girl was shot during a drive-by intended for her father. Neither crime has been solved.
But aldermen do have reason to be skeptical of outside groups, says Allen. Big promises are easily made in places like north city, and whether it's mega-bucks private developer Paul McKee or an out-and-out con man like Fredrick Douglas Scott, who once promised to revitalize East St. Louis' riverfront, these projects can take a very long time, create lots of controversy and, sometimes, lead to big disappointment.
"They would have to create jobs to succeed," Allen says of BSA. "He would need to focus on job development if he wants to sell housing units, and that's really tricky. Paul McKee is struggling with all the public subsidies known to man, and he's done this before."
White is clearly not popular with the aldermen [Ward 3 alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. angrily vented that White ought to run for office if he wants to do this work], who are the gatekeepers of community influence, city and state funding, and crucial to local cooperation. In late April, White claims there's been a breakthrough: He has managed to arrange a meeting with all six aldermen on May 20 to talk about making BSA's vision a reality. He mentions this repeatedly to nonprofits and potential partners. But when Riverfront Times asks the aldermen about it, they say they have no idea what White is talking about.
"I don't know what more Melvin wants of me," Boyd sighs. "I don't have any funding I can give him. I've done every possible thing that I can."
Moore, who also denies a meeting is set, says exasperatedly that he does not want anything to do with White.
"He can't just come in here and take parcels of land and begin to develop. Everyone wants to come in and save us, but the majority of the people in this community chose me to lead and bring back what we can bring back," says Moore. "Are we not competent or not capable of doing this on our own? Who is Melvin White? Who in the world is Melvin White?"
The grainy pre-digital footage is all shot from a moving car. One clip, called "MLK Street — Miami, FL," pans over a colorful mural of King and zooms out to capture a large empty lot bordering what looks like a crumbling housing development. Another video shot in Houston shows a barren section of a street that suddenly turns upscale, with large houses and well-kept lawns. Washington, D.C., whips by in yet another video called "MLK Street," its old brick buildings looking almost like St. Louis, if not for the healthy crush of people walking around.
These are all clips from White's YouTube channel. He began documenting the look and feel of Martin Luther King streets around the country in 2004. By then Rock's quip about MLK had entered the cultural cache, and the mockery intrigued White. He wanted to know for himself: Could every MLK Street really be falling apart like the one in St. Louis?
"I don't know what came over me," recalls White. "I could see what was happening here in St. Louis, but I wanted to see if it was like this everywhere, like everybody else was saying."
The declining north city of the 1980s served as the backdrop to White's childhood, though according to Maurie White, Melvin's 71-year-old mother, her son did catch the tail end of the neighborhood's heyday.
"We lived off Semple and Wabada, and he was eight or nine before we moved to north county," she says. "The neighborhood was stable then. Wellston was thriving, it was beautiful, and I remember we used to get up on Saturday and I'd get them dressed and we'd spend a whole day down in Wellston, just walk around. It was nice."
When he turned eighteen Maurie gave him a choice: college or military. He chose the latter and spent four years in the Air Force. He returned to St. Louis for good in 1991.
"That was a pivotal point in my life," says White. "When I got out of the military and came back was when the crack epidemic was at a high peak. A lot of my friends had got hooked on drugs, a couple of them had got killed, and you could just see the change in everything."
His mother joined the postal service in 1970, and he followed in her footsteps. He got hired full time in 1996, and actually carried mail in the neighborhoods around MLK for two years. But the job hardly fulfilled his life's ambition.
so tell me why i can go a mile and half up the road to Delmar loop and streets are clean laughter feels the air business are thriving and ON THE FLIP[ MLK BUSINESS ARE DESMIL IN TROUBLE STREETS ALIGNED WITH DEBREE NO LAUGHTER BUILDINGS HALF STAND YOU REALLY SEE NOTHING WRONG THERE. WELL THE ONLY EXCUSE YOU MUST HAVE IS YOUR BLIND. INSTEAD OF THE NEGATIVITY HOW BOUT JOINING US WITH POSITIVIETY.
Just for the record and for Clarification:
CEL works on many 'Public Interest Design' (PID) projects, of which Beloved Street is one of many of our 'Design-Lab's', to give ou more examples: we work with the Ville neighborhood, with the Sweet potato project from its inception of getting land and so on... We love to help community with Design work as a 501c3 non profit organization. Recently we partnered with HSSU's Center for affairs to join forces and with their students promoting 'service learning' and sharing expertise... >> to clarify.
But the main reason why we are writing to RFT, commenting about this article:
Yet another missed opportunity for RFT(editors) to show some competency in 'knowing' enough about the things they choose to write about.
The least one would expect of a [local]paper is to have some sense of responsibility (and dignity) towards its community, struggling with historically complex issues in this challenging times in North side St. Louis.
Instead we feel the editor in charge allows the ambitions of a young (white) ill-informed writer who is very new to town, and clearly has little to no grasp yet of St. Louis specific challenges to do with historical complexities such as:
- race issues in St.Louis
- decades of disinvestment in the North side
(just to mention a few), the editor lets its young writer run crazy insensitively, indulging and luxuriating in words about important urban issues in St. Louis, he clearly has no competency to write about... or if you/RFT editors, when you decide to let a new arrival take on the challenge, then for god-sake: do your job and edit!
I this article the editors has failed miserably with the responsibility making sure, some sense of balance and dignity is maintained in an article about one of the most contested parts of this city, instead of usual cheap hollow scandal-hungry reporting, becoming the core story of what is begin reported really...
Its a real shame, this could had been a good helpful story to tell about the good things that are lining up in North St. Louis instead of making mockery/ focusing 9fashioning your story) to be on such foolish things as color of Melvin's shoes or outfit etc. etc. its outrageously ignorant an insensitive for an editor to let these things to happen and to think, moronically that its ok to let it go to print where this city is spending millions correct the chaos of its hisotry!
Only RFT knows why they again and again, instead of focusing and framing the 'the good and positive' things that are lining up in the North side, choose to focus, write and luxuriate with a 'sophomoric' lens of 'having fun' attitude writing about timely, historically important topics they clearly have no grasp of nor competency to write about.
RFT stop being sophomoric and so irresponsible... if you want/ insist being journalists, how about growing up and shaping up to the responsibility. This bad standard for a paper is unacceptable -
I am afraid in this article shame is all yours RF, not the Beloved street nor the Alderman's its all yours with your tinted glasses!
@sylbrownjr He's only asking for $7 million, McKee barely had to ask for $400 million...
P.s. the only thing we have in comin is ??? Yea I like star track also ! Other than that . You are mentally twisted .
Bla bla bla ....suck it ! Cest Lavie Boheme . In fact we did come from Ireland ! My grandparents were straight off the boat ! They lived in pine lawn ! You long winded blow hart ! An I still to this day help with all colors as my job that I worked for to get ! An kept ! Always working ! An far as slaves ??? What about the Jewish community used as slaves an mass murderd ? O but there white . What about the Irish be shuned when we got here ? O but were white ! WHAT ABOUT EVERY RACE EXCEPT THE BLACKS ? I got some folks form ?? Mexico that are cool as hell up 2 doors from me now ! Hard working good people ! The black guy that lives across the street is just that BLACK ! Works an is cool as hell ! Not so much for the plolock ! He's a ass an white ! Most of all you pig shit digger using the color of my skin as your racist tool !!!!!! My girlfriend of 8 year's ( you ready for this dipshit ) is black ! Bam boom bam ! How about this ? Get a job with some skills moron ! STOP USING THE COLOR OF YOUR SKIN AS WHY SOMETHING DIDN'T GO YOUR WAY ! Start with a 2000 car ! An why is it some black folks have a 50,000 $ car . AN A 20,000 $ HOUSE ? Riddle me that BATMAN ! AN STOP SPENDING ALL OF YOUR CHECK ON LOTTO TICKETS AN CRACK AN BOOZE ! Call about the broke down houses to the STATE !!! The white man layed down his life for freedom of the blacks ! It's not like there will ever be a ......black president or something ? Beep beep beep beep this just in ! There's a black president ! So the hole minority an free hand outs should be over ! An that's the only good thing that came from him being president ! An in all truth ! The black people FROM AFRICA sold there OWN black people first ! So yes I giggle every time when someone says I'm afro american ! Because those are the true people that sold them into slavery ! How sad for someone to be so proud yet so damn backwards in the facts of history ! AN NO ONE'S FROM AFRICA !!!! YOUR A AMERICAN !! So I respect your opinion ? But using the color of my skin wasn't very smart ! An you wonder why some guy from India has more an makes more than you ? He doesn't bitch an busts his ass ! Wich ovesley you aren't doing ! Sad sad sad .
Then go start a movement to get JFK streets. What does one have to do with another? Is there some sort of competition? There is nothing stopping you from getting nationwide JFK streets and working to fix them up. And calling someone a "redneck" is not EVEN CLOSE to the racial slur against black people. Were rednecks used as slaves? Raped, tortured, whipped, and worked to death for 400 years? And then made no place for after slavery was over, treated as less than full human beings with no right to vote? There is no greater ass clown than yourself sir.
You wouldn't survive on week in the life of the people you denigrate with your stupid statement. There are families in that neighborhood, little kids out playing next to those crumbling buildings, parents that work two jobs when they can find work. "Ruin it again"? Do you mean "white flight"? Do you know how little money from the city goes to this area-- other than police?
You've obviously never been to the North side. There are white people in every area, including Baden and College Hill, and the area in the article. I don't have to "lock my doors" when I go through the neighbourhood because i ride the bus, with all the "hood ratz". No problem for me, but maybe they know on site I am not a racist jackass. I'd like to see you live in a neighbourhood with an $8,000 a year median income, next to housing that are crumbling and schools that are closing and very few job prospects. I'd like to see you ride the bus 2 or 3 hours ONE WAY to your minimum wage job in Earth City or South County, not just as a "stepping stone" after college, but for the rest of your life. And when you finally got enough money to move out, how hard it is to find a place to live, not even because you are black or poor, but because your previous address was somewhere undesirable and the fear you might bring "hood ratz" with you. And I wish you could have black skin for one day, and see how people like yourself react to you, just because of the colour of your skin.
Thank you Bob, for identifying how racially segregated this city is. St Louis really is about privileged white and poor black. It's institutionalized racism. Are there enough jobs in St. Louis to do something about the unemployment and underemployment rate in north city and county? Is there some way to close the 32,000 a year median income gap between the north and south side (40k per year on the south, 8k on north)? Glad to hear you support JFK and not Reagan though. And as far as "your" money goes, and I assume you mean taxpayer money (income, property, and sales), you might want to look into that. You are paying for developers and construction companies to get rich, building things that may or may not be necessary, and getting nice big tax breaks and development money. It's always some dude whose real proud of his genetic heritage (St Claire/Sinclair Scottish? or probably you identify Irish I bet?) and ancestory, making it about skin colour. Have you ever seen the movie Kings of New York? The Irish gangs far outdid the Crips in terms of violence and mayhem, and poverty. Do you know the history of your own people? Do you know how much racism JFK met with for being Catholic Irish? Moreover, have you ever done a DNA test on yourself? You might be surprised to find out you are not 100% whatever your last name is. You might only be 25% Irish. There are a whole lotta black folks that have that much or more white DNA, thanks to the propagation of slaves via rape by their masters/owners. And don't we all live in this city? Wouldn't we all benefit from a healthier, safer, more prosperous north side? I'm sorry you are so narrow minded that you can't see any good in another culture or people. That you can't see the privilege you have simply for being born white and American. And that that privilege has done absolutely nothing to make you a better or more understanding person. The area where Beloved Streets of America is trying to develop has a lot of potential. Have you ever been there?
Soy Sauce Soy Sauce . Redneck ? That's the same as calling a black person a nig. You racist piece of crap ! Both are dumb lazy backwards in the way of thinking no bathing racial slur's . I want some J.F.K. streets . What's so racist about that ? Because it doesn't fit your agenda ? Go puff a pole ! Ass clown
I love that he's trying to better the city. But they are just going to string him along. They don't care about certain areas because it doesnt bring money into their pockets.
Why so much hate for someone trying to improve our community? Streets can and do become revitalized with some initiative and hard work and love. We can rebuild this city, but we have to be supportive and work together to do it. Stop nay-saying and get active.
If he has a vision and financial backing to make this happen, Go for it! I've seen worse areas in other states that was noted for not having any hope for improvement and was redeveloped into something nice. I have friends who live in neighborhoods off of MLK that would love to see this happen.
mlk streets come in handy all over the country,even if your in a strange town,if you end up on MLK,you better get the hell outta there quick!
NO !!!! Sad to say but da hood rats wantz it dat wayz....... :-( ;-) ....Fix it up so they can ruin it again....Are you serious !!!!! LMAO ...Every city needs a King Lutha drive...... lets outa towners know on all the highways in bumper to bumper traffic.....LOCK YO DOs, you'z be in da jungle partz of town....... ;-)
Can they ever be saved? Sure. In a world of mathematicians I'm sure they could provide a statistical probability of success. Forget all of them and their unique micro chasm of dysfunction and focus on just the one in our own city for a moment. The entire area is in disrepair, it needs so much repair of the infrastructure that it would probably be cheaper to tear down and rebuild but then that prices out the current citizenry and makes the point moot.
Only mlk streets ? Seems kinda racist ! Like a black power thing ? Then ask all black folks to pay for it ? Because I'm spending my money on the J.F.K. streets ?
one small note - I don't believe you can purchase a lot from the city for $1 - you lease it for a year for $1
Best of luck to Mr. White. It's a daunting task but not an impossible one.
never know where this city sways sometimes. if no one did anything folks would say why aren't you all doing anything about it, and when someone wants to do something about it, he is met with vague racial and prejudiced opinions. Its really disheartening.. and no, i called no one a racist.
Well I recently moved two blocks from Mr. White's BSA and "alderman " Boyd and "alderman " Moore obviously don't visit much or come there at night. And to say "I have a housing agency which has exclusive rights to develop in the community -- not anyone else. " !! Wow!!! 1.you're doing a hell of a job. 2. How can you sanely say that? You can't /aren't do/doing it by yourself and should partner with anyone you can. But it seems to me your interests are yourself and I'm sure you got cookie crumbs on your fingertips.
Folks, why are so many so quick to play the race card? Why the area is sadly impoverished is a far different and complex question - face it, in the post WWII era EVERYONE who could afford to move to the suburbs did (with some exceptions of course) and pulled all their business with them. Or if it's found odd to have a street named for Dr. King in a largely black neighborhood, then where would you suggest? Ladue? Frontenac? (actually I'd like to see that). So why the snark about someone trying to establish some dignity in a place that could sorely use it in honor of a man who spent his life working for peaceful resolution during a very tense and emotional time? More power to him, as it's going to be a tough road and longer than is the Blvd, so lighten up.
What about the j.f.k. streets ? But that would be racist then ? Lol :) . If it's a black thing ? By all means black folks ! Step right up an flip the pay !