News Archives

Jane Smiley '67

October 14, 2019

Jane Smiley '67 penned an essay about St. Louis for the New York Times, which ran 10.14.19: "I don’t think most Americans view St. Louis as a tourist destination, but they should. Even as I was enjoying my fall sojourn, activists were protesting current conditions there, and I could see why — infrastructure, housing, and wages need serious investment. But my hometown is still beautiful, still full of unique attractions, and, I think, perhaps the most enlightening spot in America for exploring what America really is. There have always been racial and economic inequities here. Because Missouri was a Border State, both slaves and free African-Americans walked the streets before and during the Civil War. In the early 20th century, African-American districts had some say in city politics because each city district elected its own aldermen and the mayor was mostly a figurehead. Even now, though, St. Louis is one of the country’s most segregated cities, according to a 2017 study. There are significant disparities in investment in the city, with black communities being left behind. African-American residents live at a poverty rate over three times higher than whites." Read the whole article here (may require subscription access).