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Hey Joe: Who is the most influential black person in St. Louis today?

Harold Ford Jr., Nashville, Tennessee

I'd say former city fire chief Sherman George. I've followed him for a number of years, and he has exhibited nothing but class. The position he took against those with the intent to transform him into a turncoat reminds me of words in the Frank Sinatra song, "My Way": "For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels." Charles Bryson and Francis Slay do not fit this mold. Both caved in to third-party desires.

I'm not familiar with the role Bryson played before being given the job to "discipline" George, but he must now be aware that it created a storm of discontentment among many black and white St. Louis citizens. I'm also unfamiliar with how many younger blacks are knowledgeable of Malcolm X's version of House Nigga/Field Nigga. If not, the role assigned Bryson is a perfect example.

Slay is accustomed to taking advantage of situations. He's seemingly emerged from a disagreement between former mayors Freeman Bosley Jr. and Clarence Harmon, which resulted in Harmon first supporting a white female candidate against Bosley for mayor, until being talked into running against Bosley himself.

Quite frankly, it is my firm belief that both Slay and Harmon have been St. Louis' two worst mayors. They also highlight some national polls' findings of St. Louis being among the nation's top racist cities. From my understanding, it was the hiring policy of promoting firemen by an IQ test that triggered the onset of the problem that introduced Slay and Bryson.

Seemingly, given any test taken involving blacks and whites to determine who is most qualified, much consternation will follow. In most cases, it is said that the white candidate prevails. Case in point: affirmative action and the firemen's tests.

Recently, a predominantly black St. Louis school lost accreditation because of the test factor. Maybe the words of John Wesley, the white founder of Methodism, should be written into history rather than being left out. He was also a prominent opponent of slavery. He denounced it because of its sinfulness. His words are: "The African is in no respect inferior to the European."

Slay demonstrated his insight into the future by supporting members of the white local union. Bryson demonstrated that he has no dignity, and for a prestigious job and its title, he would immediately sell out! And many people in St. Louis have decided that those who wish to keep St. Louis divided will help by trying to change mayors every other election until fairness prevails.

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