The police murder of Michael Brown and subsequent uprisings in Ferguson may have galvanized philanthropic attention to St. Louis, but St. Louis has always had a strong tradition of Black leadership and community organizing.
The economic base of the region has been shrinking due to active disinvestment and wealth extraction, which has been partially shaped by corporate dominance of the governance agenda. Fortunately, movement and community groups have opened alternatives to new corporate oriented development plans. Worker organizing is also moving with the times to new sectors that are becoming core to the regional economy, which are relying upon Black, Latinx, and migrant labor, and require a lens to include semi-rural exurbs of St. Louis. Key principles to a reparative, sustainable approach to the region is deep engagement, community voice, and long-term funding - one that puts ownership in the hands of the community.